As predicted by the United Nations, the world’s population reached 8 billion on 15th November 2022, marking a “milestone in human development.” According to the UN, 1 billion people have entered the world’s population in the last 12 years.
“This unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in human lifespan owing to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene, and medicine. It is also the result of high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries,” UN officials said.
Over the past decade, middle-income countries, mostly in Asia, have driven the majority of population growth, adding around 700 million people since 2011. India, on the other hand, added about 180 million people, and is on track to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation by next year.
Although the global population continues to grow at a steady rate, demographers note that the growth rate has decreased steadily to a rate of less than 1% per year, which means that the world will not surpass 9 billion people until 2037. It is estimated that the world’s population will peak at around 10.4 billion people by the year 2100 and that it will remain at that level until then.
According to the UN, most of the 2.4 billion people that will be born before the global population peaks between 2050 and 2080 will be born in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that China and India are increasingly becoming irrelevant.
In the statement of the UN, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that reaching an 8 billion global population ‘” is an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet.“
As the human population continues to grow, the impact on nature will be more pronounced due to increased competition for water, food, and space. Meanwhile, rapid population growth combined with climate change will also probably result in mass migration and conflict in the coming decades, according to experts.
While there are some who feel eight billion humans is a great number for the planet to sustain, most experts believe the bigger problem is the overconsumption of resources by those who are the wealthiest in the world.
Natalia Kanem, chief of the United Nations Population Fund, was quoted as saying, “Some express concerns that our world is overpopulated.”I am here to clarify that the sheer number of human lives is not a cause for fear.”
The scientist Joel Cohen, head of the Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Populations, explained to AFP that the question of how many people Earth can support has two sides to it: natural limits and human choices.
In the world we live in today, the choices we make result in humans consuming far more biological resources, such as forests and land, than our planet is able to re-create every year.
In the case of fossil fuels, for example, overconsumption of them leads to a much higher amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, which is causing global warming.
“We are stupid. We lacked foresight. We are greedy. We do not use the information that we have. That is where the choices and the problems lie,” said Mr. Cohen.
He, however, does not accept the idea that humans are a curse on the planet, arguing that it would be better to give people better options, rather than curse them.
In any case, there won’t be enough of everything, whether it’s food or water, batteries or gasoline, as the global population grows faster and faster. However, how much they consume is equally important, suggesting policymakers can make a significant difference by mandating a change in consumption patterns for all of these goods and services.
Experts say that African nations, whose population is expected to boom due to climate change, will face particular resource challenges due to the rapid growth of their economies, and they will also face the greatest burden from the effects of climate change.