We are now three quarters through 2020. There are many things that could be said based on that fact but I just want to focus on world population – the number of human beings living and breathing on this planet. Since I am counted among that group and, if you are reading this, so are you, it should be a subject that is of paramount interest to each of us. Why is that so?
Well, for many reasons but in particular because our situation here is anything but stable, anything but secure, and anything but tenable.
There are currently more than 7.8 billion of us. That number will top 8 billion before the end of 2022 – a smidgeon or smidgen (depending on where you come from) over two years from now.
“OK,” you say, “but isn’t population growth slowing and will all but cease by mid century?”
No, it is not slowing, although we are told that it is, even, and perhaps most noticeably by the United Nations – without providing any sort of proof of course. The facts speak for themselves, and provide no form of evidence to substantiate such claims. I do not doubt that population growth will cease at some time in the next few decades, but it will not be as a result of planning, education, or lack of human will to procreate. Such a turnaround can only be achieved by a massive increase in the number of annual deaths. People will always have babies and the more people there are the more babies will be born. Only when the number of deaths overtakes the number of new births, will the population stabilise. And only when the number of deaths massively overtakes the number of new births, will the population decrease. In the ordinary course of events there is no other way this can happen.
Now, whether you view the COVID experience as being a rehearsal for such a scenario or not – and I am not saying that it is – something much more massive and effective than the current pandemic would be one way of clearing a path for the UN projected scenario. There are many others.
But what will be, will be. Just know that we puny humans are not in charge of events of that nature. Nor do we have the means to prevent them.
Let’s just take a look at the numbers again to see what is the true position on growth.
We know that the population growth rate peaked in the 1960s and has been declining since then. As I have said many times before, that is of little consequence. It is the actual numbers that count. In a growth situation, the actual rate of growth is immaterial.
The data table in the accompanying image (Worldometers) nicely summarises the facts of the recent past in five year averages except for the actual data for the most recent five years – which I assume is meant to show that in those recent years the numbers have been falling (which it does, but I want to show you that is in fact misleading).
I want to summarise for even further clarity by providing decadal averages for the yearly change in the numbers. It comes like this:
- Ten Year Average Population Increase
- 1960’s – 56,656,316
- 1970’s – 73,989,701
- 1980’s – 79,144,113
- 1990’s – 87,329,124
- 2000’s – 79,769,405
- 2010’s – 83,318,224
A number of comments could be made. As I have said previously, an annual average increase of over 80 million (actually 82,390,224) has become something of a plateau – albeit something of an undulating plateau (some low years, some high years) – for the most recent 4 decades. I think for the foreseeable future that will remain the case if no external stresses impinge on the natural progress (which is not a given).
It seems that 2020, with a projected 81.3 million increase, will be a little lower than the four decade average. We may be entering one of those periods of low years similar to the first decade of the current century. I can see no reason to believe that is anything other than part of the undulation forming around this 80+ million plateau we seem to have reached.
If that proves to be the case then we shall see that average increase maintained over the remainder of the century. Meaning an average addition of another billion lives to our current total every 11 to 12 years. That has been the case for the past 4 decades. In fact it will have been only a little over 11 years from the 7 billion threshold in October 2011 to reach the 8 billion in December 2022, even if it slips into January of 2023.
What does that mean for the end of the century, assuming no intervening hiccups?
- 2033 – 9 billion
- 2044 – 10 billion
- 2055 – 11 billion
- 2066 – 12 billion
- 2077 – 13 billion
- 2088 – 14 billion
- 2100 – 15 billion
An almost doubling of our current total. Can you imagine that?
I can’t, and I doubt it will happen. Long before that there will be interventions of one sort or another. Mostly catastrophic in nature. All disastrous for human life at the levels we now see. Can you believe that?
That is something I can believe in. The alternative is even worse