World population to hit 7 billion this year

According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) the world population is due to hit seven billion by 2011. This occurs as it hit six billion only 12 years ago, and five billion 24 years ago.

The current increase of global population poses multiple serious problems.With decreasing water supplies as the Himalaya’s snow is melting and as climate is changing in Africa how could we feed so many more people ?

It seems the population increase is slowing down in Asia but keeps on staying high in Sub-Saharan Africa and other countries. This is exemplified very easily by the map below.

It is said that we have to double the production of food by 2050 to answer the needs of the forecast population increase. But how can we double the production as yield can’t increase for ever and that forests can’t be cut too any more ?

(Remember Easter island and many other cases: when there are no more trees, bad things happen. cf. Jared Diamond’s fantastic book, Collapse)

If we Westerners have to decrease the amount of stuff we buy and consume, some countries will have to invest in educating women in order to enable them to have fewer kids.

Fertility_rate_world_mapWorld fertility rate map. (click picture to enlarge)

The population in Africa recently reached one billion. With the current growth, it could reach two billion in 2050. This makes me wonder : How could we add one billion people in a continent plagued by wars, illnesses, famines and a rapidly changing climate ?

I am no malthusian but I am just wondering how we could feed 9 billion people in 2050 when we are struggling with just 7 billion in 2011 ? What do you think ?

I invite you to read and listen to the reflection by Andrew Revkin on his Dot Earth blog.

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