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September 30, 2013 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Preparing for Population Growth

Robyn Williams: Feeling crowded these days? Well, it’s sometimes hard to imagine, but there are cities such as Tokyo and Mexico City with populations equivalent to Australia’s entire total. If you do find yourself in a mega metropolis it can be blissful beyond imagining to find yourself back home in some of this country’s wide open spaces. Greg Oates is an engineer based in Adelaide. Earlier this month he was a candidate in the federal election standing for the Senate for the Stable Population Party. He was out of luck, but here presents some of the arguments that led him to stand. Greg Oates:

Greg Oates: Population size has great implications on what is expected from science and engineering, yet we have seemingly little influence in its planning. I will try to answer what path I think scientists and engineers can take with regards to population to best improve quality of life for all.

Let’s start by having a look at the numbers and then let’s have a look at the impact of population size and growth rate.

World population has grown from about 1 billion in 1800 to 7 billion today. Globally, the fertility rate, that is the number of children per woman, has fallen from 5 in 1965 to 2.5 today. Although, with the population base growing, the growth rate has hovered fairly steadily at about 80 million extra people per year since the 1960s.

Less developed countries contribute 90% of the current population growth. However, it must be pointed out that the impact of population growth in developed countries is magnified by a high-consumption lifestyle. For example electricity use per capita 6 times that of the rest of the world.

Global population growth is solely due to births exceeding deaths. At a national or regional level, migration is a significant factor and accounts for 65% of population growth in developed countries.

Looking into the UN’s crystal ball predicts that population will continue to grow and then plateau around 10 billion by 2100. This is the middle estimate. The lower estimate suggests a peak of about 8 billion around 2050. The high estimate is for a staggering 16 billion by 2100 and still climbing!

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Current World Population


Net Growth During Your Visit