Will Earth’s Population Decline?

The World’s population has doubled over the past 50 years, sparking fears that we would “breed ourselves out of existence” according to Warren Sanderson, professor of economics and history at State University of New York at Stonybrook.

If you’ve ever caught a train in Delhi or braved peak hour in the streets of Tokyo, you’d understand the claustrophobic nature of overcrowding. Now, imagine that feeling but on a global scale.

So long, personal space.

This was the real danger Earth was expected to face in the near future, however a new study released has predicted that our population will peak in 2070 at around 9 billion people then slowly begin to decline.

“They thought we'd produce so many children, there would be no standing room left on the planet. Now it seems our population will peak. And that's an optimistic message,” explains Sanderson to the ABC.

The study suggests our population will grow from the 6.1 billion it is currently, to 9 billion in 2070, tapering to 8.4 billion by the year 2100.

The U.N originally pegged the population to hit 9 billion by 2050 with no decline, however predictions have changed, as previous estimations neglected to anticipate the number of children born to each woman, which researchers believe will go down.

Video: Pedestrians cross and cars buzz through the busy evening streets of the Shibuya-ku neighborhood in Tokyo.

However predicting population numbers are as uncertain as predicting the weather. Any estimation cannot factor in pandemics, wars or social trends. This is true of the baby boom after World War Two and the birth drop in the 1970s.

While developed countries, specifically in Europe are showing a decrease in births, other countries in the developing world are showing an increase. Such as Chad which is growing by 3.3 per cent every year.

Robert Engelman, Vice President for research for Population Action International, a Washington-based advocacy group. Believes "the population growth problem isn't solved until we've solved it."

He believes family planning needs to be enforced all over the world to control the population.
The UN however is choosing to ignore the new study and believes that there will be no decline for Earth’s population. Sanderson argues that the study is a more accurate representation of future numbers:

"The evidence shows women are already not having enough children to replace themselves, we may as well wake up and smell the coffee and begin focusing on how to live sustainably with the number of people we will have in the next century."

Just like the weather, the only thing we can do, as a global population, is wait and see.

Lead Image: OSIRIS-REx Views the Earth During Flyby, NASA

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