October 26, 2011

World population could reach 15 billion this century

by Jan Harris

Sometime on 31 October the world’s seven-billionth person is expected to be born, on a planet where resources are already stretched to breaking point.

However, the United Nations has warned that we are heading for a world population of 15 billion by the end of the century, even though population growth has slowed since the 1960s.

This far outstrips earlier estimates of a world population of 10 billion by 2100.

While the birth rate has dropped in developed countries, it is still rising in 58 countries, including 39 countries in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Oceania and four in Latin America.

It has also grown because medical advances mean people are living longer and the mortality rate for infants has fallen.

If it continues to grow we are heading for an unsustainable future in terms of food and water, according to environmentalists.

The figures form part of a new study – The State of World Population 2011 – published by the United Nations Population Fund.

While controlling the population should not be a problem with simple family planning measures available, governments worldwide need the political will and economic ability to ensure that education and health programmes are in place.

However, cultural and religious factors can make this difficult.

The United Nations Population Fund said that the Catholic Church’s ban on the use of contraception is not related to the massive growth in population.

It claims that many of the church’s members ignore the ban and population growth is greatest in non-Catholic countries.

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