There’s no denying that the world’s population has grown at such a rapid rate over the last fifty years that it has literally put the future existence of our planet in danger. Overcrowding, animal displacement, global warming, plastic pollution – they can all be linked to the disproportionate volume of human beings living on a world that surpassed the level of a sustainable population back in the 1970’s. Some scientists predict the human population will continue to increase at an even fast rate leading to a sixth mass extinction event, but a new report suggests the opposite.
Researchers have found that population growth rates, which although they have continued to rise, have done so at a slower rate than was actually expected. Although the rate is still growing, it also looks possible that the global population will peak this century before starting to fall. Currently we have around eight billion people on the planet, a number that has quadrupled since just 1968. At that rate of growth the population could be estimated to increase to sixteen billion by 2100, but new research considers we might hit nine billion before it then starts to decrease.
“The global population could peak at a much lower level — around nine billion — by mid-century,” the Earth4All nonprofit collective research predicts. “And if the world invests more in economic development, education, and health, the global population could fall to levels at which everyone on Earth can have sustainable access to clean energy, shelter, food, and water.”
While the research may have retrospectively looked at population growth and found it hadn’t increased as rapidly as was initially predicted (even though it’s still at an alarming level) it seems to rely on life changes to make a difference for the future. And change, particularly when asking humans to alter their habits, is a very difficult thing to achieve.
“This research gives us evidence to believe the population bomb won’t go off, but we still face significant challenges from an environmental perspective. We need a lot of effort to address the current development paradigm of overconsumption and overproduction, which are bigger problems than population.”
If we don’t address social and environmental problems, and individually and collectively make a choice to change, it will be that which destroys the planet, not overpopulation.