Today, you are one of 7 billion people on Earth. This historic milestone is rekindling age-old debates over birth control, protecting natural resources and reducing consumption. It also has many wondering whether the Earth can support so many people.
About half were added just in the past 40 years, and 3 billion more are expected by 2100.
Global population has swelled in record time since 1987, when it hit 5 billion.
“Currently, world population is growing at the most rapid pace in history,” says Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau. “In 1900, we were at 1.6 billion. In 99 years, we flipped the numbers to 6.1 billion.”
The world is adding more people in less time but the annual growth rate is slowing down — from 2.1% in the late 1960s to 1.2% today — reflecting lower birth rates.
“In 1999, when we passed the 6 billion mark, the world economy was in hyperdrive,” says Robert Lang, urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “Now we pass the 7 billion mark in a recession and there’s much pessimism.”
Recessions and depressions tend to slow population growth, especially in developed nations. Currently, growth is highest in poorest countries where health care advances are keeping people alive longer while birth rates are still relatively high.
The result is a yawning age gap. The share of the population 65 and older is at 21% in Germany and 23% in Japan. In countries such as Gambia and Senegal, only 2% are in that age group.
Source: USA Today