7 Billion People: How Near Is Overpopulation?
On October 31st, the United Nations estimates that the seventh billion child will be born. But people have worried about overpopulation since long ago. Are we approaching a threshold?
What's the Latest Development?
The United Nations estimates that the seventh billion child will be born this October 31st, bringing world population to its highest point yet. The international body had long thought that birth rates would level out at about nine billion around 2050, but now, as a result of steady birthrates even in developed countries, the world population is expected to reach ten billion by 2100 and continue climbing. Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson has called 'the pattern of human population growth' in the twentieth century 'more bacterial than primate.'
What's the Big Idea?
Concerns about overpopulation have been around for a long time, since at least the late 18th century when Thomas Malthus wrote that population would always be kept in check by 'inevitable famine'. How long can the planet continue to provide for an ever-increasing human population? "As many, including Bill Gates, have pointed out, just to keep per-capita food production constant in the coming decades will require a second 'green revolution'," the first of which increased food production by two percent every year from 1950 to 1990.