According to UN estimates, the world’s population surpassed 8 billion on Tuesday. The organization sees it as ‘an important milestone in human development’ and, in the midst of COP27, reminds us of ‘our shared responsibility to care for our planet’.
According to the UN, ‘this unprecedented growth’ – there were 2.5 billion people in 1950 – ‘was the result of a gradual increase in life expectancy due to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine.
Although there were less than a billion people on Earth until the 1800s, it took only twelve years for that to grow to 7 to 8 billion. A sign of its population slowdown, it will take about fifteen years to reach 9 billion in 2037.
The UN predicts a ‘peak’ of 10.4 billion in the 2080s and stagnation until the end of the century.
8 billion dollars passed in the middle of the world climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, again underscoring the difficulty of the rich countries, the countries most responsible for global warming and the poor countries. Help tackle it by agreeing to more ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.
However, the UN notes that ‘population growth amplifies the environmental impact of economic growth’, ‘in countries where consumption of economic resources and emissions of greenhouse gases per capita are high, usually in countries where per capita income is highest, not where population is growing rapidly’.
“Our impact on the planet is determined more by our behavior than by our numbers,” sums up AFP Jennifer Skuba, researcher-in-residence at the Wilson Center think tank.
India is ahead of China
Population growth poses the greatest challenges in countries that already have high levels of poverty. The UN writes that ‘high fertility stability, driving rapid population growth, is a symptom and cause of slow growth progress’.
Thus, India, a country of 1.4 billion people, will become the world’s most populous nation by 2023, surpassing China, and its urban population will experience an explosion in the coming decades, with metropolises already overpopulated and lacking essential infrastructure.
In Bombay, about 40% of the population lives in slums, slums made up of makeshift huts, most of which lack running water, electricity and sanitation.
Africa and Asia
Global numbers mask enormous population diversity. Thus, more than half of population growth by 2050 will come from 8 countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines and Tanzania.
And by the end of the century, the world’s three most populous cities will be African cities: Lagos in Nigeria, Kinshasa in DR Congo, and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
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