8 billion people on Earth at the end of the year: should we worry?

The world population is expected to reach 8 billion on November 15, according to United Nations estimates. Should we be concerned about that? Medidispatch He resides with Jill Besson, who specializes in global demography.

The global population is supposed to reach 8 billion people on November 15, according to a report from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs published on Monday, July 11. It should reach about 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050.

Zero growth by the end of the century

“The population should continue to grow thereafter, reaching 10.4 billion in 2080,” explains Gil Besson, a professor at the National Museum of Natural History and a research associate at the National Institute for Demographic Studies who specializes in global demography. “At that time, the world’s population will reach a maximum and no longer increase. So we are on our way to achieving zero growth from a population point of view by the end of the century.”

“Sure, there will be a quarter of the human population on Earth, but there will be no complications as we were able to monitor in the past, the specialist points out. The bulk of the world’s population growth is behind us.”

Another important point: if the population continues to increase, the pace slows down, and it was about fifty years ago. “Population growth reached a maximum growth rate of over 2% per year in 1960. Since then, population growth has continued but slowed. Today, it is growing at a rate of approximately 1% per year, and this rate is expected to continue to decline in the coming decades.”

One in four people will live in Africa by 2050

But how do we explain that? Mainly, due to low fertility. “Today, couples have an average of 2.3 children. The number was more than doubled, or 5, in 1950,” explains Gil Besson. Among the regions of the world where fertility is still high – in other words above 3 children on average – we find almost all regions of Africa, and regions in Asia ranging from Afghanistan to northern India, passing through Pakistan. “It is in these regions of the world that the bulk of future global population growth will be determined.”

Thus, one of the biggest future changes will be the strong increase in the population of Africa. “Africa had a population of 1 billion in 2010. Today its population is 1.3 billion. The continent’s population could reach 2.5 billion in 2050, and about 4 billion in 2100! In other words, today one in six people lives In Africa, it will be one in four in 2050 and maybe one in three by the end of the century. So humanity will be distributed differently.”

The first challenge is the climate challenge.

This projection of the United Nations today and tomorrow poses many challenges. The expert explains: “We will have to feed the 10 billion that will be on Earth better than we feed the 8 billion we feed today. Part of the population does not eat enough to satisfy itself, in terms of quantity and quality. Others also eat a lot. But the challenge is not so great, Because the number of people suffering from starvation and dying from it has not been that low today.”

The specialist says: “The first challenge is the climate challenge. It is an illusion to think of the ability to act on the number of people in the coming years. We will not escape from this two billion additional people by 2050, because of the demographic stagnation that no one can prevent.”

However, according to the specialist, the important thing today is to work on lifestyles, and this without delay, to make them more respectful of the environment and biodiversity and increase resource efficiency. “If there is a problem, it is not because there are too many of us, but because we live in an unsustainable way, especially in the Nordic countries.”

What is the impact of COVID-19?

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in deaths in the years 2020-2021. “Experts estimate approximately 15 million additional deaths linked to the epidemic. This represents an additional 10% of deaths,” Gilles Besson details. “However, this increase in deaths is temporary and does not raise questions about demographic levels and trends. According to UN projections, from 2022 and in the following years, these will resume their previous course of the epidemic.”

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