Newly released United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division projections indicate that the population of the world will increase by approximately one billion to a total of about 8.5 billion within the next 15 years.
The Population Division’s 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects also indicates that although the rate of population growth has decreased slightly in comparison to its peak, which took place 10 years ago, world population size is likely to be almost 10 billion by 2050 and surpass 11 billion by 2100.
The areas predicted to experience the largest population increases are predominantly those least able to support them. More than half of the predicted population growth between 2015 and 2050, for example, is projected to occur within Africa. Of the 9 per cent of countries classified as “high-fertility”, meaning that an average woman has more than five children, only two are found outside of Africa. In addition, many small African nations are projected to experience a tripling of their populations by 2100.
Europe in contrast is predicted to experience a significant population decrease. Some European countries are projected to experience decreases of as much as 15 per cent by 2050.
The authors of the 2015 Revision acknowledge that birth and mortality rates — the two components that make up population growth rates — cannot be predicted with certainty because they are dependent on a large number of variable factors. The authors state that world population size could be between 12 and 13 billion by 2100.
According to the Global Footprint Network, we are currently consuming approximately 1.4 times more resources than Earth produces each year. If our population were to increase per the 2015 Revision, the demands we are making on our planet for resources would become much more unsustainable.
There are many ways in which individuals can help to address population growth and ensure sustainability. We urge you to do so.