World population to hit 8 billion this month
World population to hit 8 billion
The United Nations projects that world population will reach a new milestone – 8 billion people – in mid-November, 2022. According to these same projections, China and India are the first and second most populous countries, each with some 1.4 billion people. But India is due to overtake China, to become the most populous country in the world sometime in 2023.
Projections also show the world will have 9 billion inhabitants by 2037 and 10 billion by 2057. Scientists then expect the world’s population to level off around 10 to 12 billion in the year 2100.
There have been many studies on Earth’s carrying capacity, which is the maximum population size an environment can sustain indefinitely. These studies conclude with an enormously wide range of numbers, but the majority of the studies estimate Earth’s carrying capacity at 8 billion.
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The ideal world population?
With estimates of Earth’s carrying capacity ranging from 500 million to 1 sextillion (a 1 with 21 zeros), the issue is what would be the quality of life in those ranges?
The United States is the third most populous country with 335 million people, though coming in far behind China and India. However, the United States, with only about 5% of the world’s population, consumes about 17% of the world’s energy. China has about 18% of the world’s population but consumes 25% of its energy.
A slowing growth rate since the ’50s
Currently, the world adds more than 200,000 people a day. While that seems like a lot, it’s actually fewer than in the past. The rate of population growth has slowed. Now, the rate is slowest since 1950.
A 2022 UN report said:
Fertility has fallen markedly in recent decades for many countries. Today, 2/3 of the global population lives in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman. That’s roughly the level required for zero growth in the long run, for a population with low mortality.
In 61 countries or areas, the population should decrease by at least 1% over the next three decades. This is a result of sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, elevated rates of emigration, that is, people leaving their own country.
High or low mortality in a given country is also a factor in that country’s overall population growth. The longer people live, the more time they have to be counted.
And, as expected, the COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on population change:
… global life expectancy at birth fell to 71 years in 2021 (down from 72.9 in 2019). And, in some countries, successive waves of the pandemic might have produced short-term reductions in numbers of pregnancies and births.
World population growth concentrated in a few places
According to the UN’s projections, more than half of the projected increase in the global population up to 2050 will be in eight countries. Those countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The UN report said that countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contribute more than half of the increase anticipated through 2050.
One important facet of population growth is the graying of human populations. When growth rate falls, and fewer babies are born, the average age of the population shifts older. (And that fact, in itself, brings with it a host of issues).
Countries with higher birth rates, such as those in Africa, have greater populations of young people. John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, commented:
Further actions by governments aimed at reducing fertility would have little impact on the pace of population growth between now and mid-century, because of the youthful age structure of today’s global population.
But, he pointed out:
… the cumulative effect of lower fertility, if maintained over several decades, could be a more substantial deceleration of global population growth in the second half of the century.
Something to think about, no matter where you live on Earth, and also for those of us here in the U.S., where many women have lost their reproductive rights.
Bottom line: The world’s human population will reach the 8 billion mark on November 15, 2022.
Source: World Population Prospects 2022
Read more: World population unlikely to stabilize in this century