On CBC Radio’s The Current this morning they had an interview with Martha Campbell. On May 9, she and Malcolm Potts wrote an article in Foreign Policy journal called The Myth of 9 Billion that examined recent adjustments in United Nation’s population projections.
In July 2012, the world’s population will hit seven billion. According to previous demographic data, it was expected that our population would top out at around nine billion by 2050 as steadily improving living conditions in the Developing World and greater education and political power for women caused the global birth rate to decline to something approaching replacement level of 2.1 children per couple.
In much of the world that’s the case now. In many countries, in fact, the birth rate has fallen below replacement levels and immigration is being relied on to counteract an aging population. If you read Campbell and Potts’ article, though, you’ll see that due to an ongoing struggle to implement effective family planning in areas like sub-Sahara Africa the world’s population could reach 10.6 billion by 2050.
Demographics is not an exact science, of course. But the impact of population growth is exponential. In 1900, for instance, the world population was 1.6 billion. Now, a little over 100 years later, we’re closing in on seven billion. And while thus far we’ve been able to evade dire Malthusian predictions of doom based on a population-stressed world, if our population continues to soar, Campbell and Potts note, it could reach a worst-case scenario of 15.8 billion by 2100. And let’s face it, even at 6.8 billion we’re already imposing an intolerable and unsustainable burden on the environment.
In the past few months, we’ve had several posts on our blog about initiatives by conservative politicians north and south of the border to defund International Planned Parenthood because a miniscule part of its mandate involves providing abortion services to women who are dealing with an unplanned pregancy. The vast majority of its funding, of course, goes to the provision of desperately needed family planning, contraception, and health services for women and children in the Developing World.
For Star Trek fans it must conjure up a curious sense of deja vu.