The United Nations recently confirmed that the Earth's population has officially reached the 8-billion milestone. The last time we added 1 billion to the population was 2010. However, experts warn that this upward trend can't continue for long—at least not without repercussions that could change humanity as we know it.
The more of us there are on this planet, the more we put ourselves and generations to come at risk of food scarcity and increasing prices worldwide. Every night around 828 million people go to bed hungry, according to the World Food Program (WFP). That's millions of people who already can't keep up with the way the population is affecting our planet as it is. Read on to find out more about the predictions for population growth and what it means for humanity.
The Official Milestone
With the birth of the 8th billion baby on November 15, 2022, in The Dominican Republic, the United Nations called the birth a "milestone in human development." The "Day of 8 Billion" became known as the date the world's population reached 8 billion people.
While a new life is a cause for celebration, it's also a cause for concern. We don't know when it will happen exactly, but our population's exponential growth is not substantial. The fact is that humans are abundant on this planet, and our population is on an upward trend.
Projections For Rapidly Growing Populations
The global population has been growing slowly since the 1950s. In the UN's World Population Prospects 2022 report, they warned that the population is expected to reach close to 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, 10.4 billion in the 2080s, and stay at that level until 2100.
Between 1804 and 1927, the global population quickly grew from one billion to two billion. Then, it took 33 years after that to reach three billion. Since then, it's taken about 12.6 years to add another billion people. It's still increasing as we speak. In 2018, it was estimated that 4.5 births happened every second.
On The Way To A Food Catstrophe
While having more people to love and care for seems like a great idea, it limits resources. Since 2019, the number of people facing significant food insecurity has increased from 135 million to 345 million. The UN Secretary-General explains that it's because of these growing populations: "We are on the way to a raging food catastrophe," he says, adding that "people in five separate places are facing famine."
The world produces enough food yearly—around 4 billion tons—to feed everyone, but the problem is that many of the 1.3 billion tons of fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat go to waste.
Less Food, Poorer Health
It's not rocket science that human beings need food to survive, yet despite being a basic need, it's not accessible to all populations:
"When you look at the food price crisis, it's particularly foods that are nutritious and are high in vitamins and minerals that these children need that are the most costly," says Saskia Osendarp, an economics, food, and health system expert.
We have all witnessed the skyrocketing prices of food lately. For some, this means having to switch to cheaper staple foods and processed foods instead of buying the more nutritious but pricier fresh foods. This created poorer quality diets for those who can't afford the healthier alternatives. This also creates health and developmental issues, especially for children who start lacking the energy to do well in school.
About one in two preschool-aged children and two in three women of reproductive age globally experience at least one micronutrient deficiency, according to a report from the Lancet Global Health.
Where Are We Going To End Up?
Where are we going to end up? That's the prominent question experts are trying to solve. Well, there is good and bad news. The good news is that experts believe that the population is starting to decline; the bad news is that we're also economically unprepared for that, which will also have potential risks.
We're predicted to reach somewhere between eight and nine billion by the end of the century, according to Bricker, coauthor of Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline.
"The reason that it's not going to increase more than that is that… China is now recording its lowest birth rate in history. India has just dropped below replacement rate for its birth rate. That's 36 percent of the entire global population that are now not replacing or not at replacement level birth rates."
Once the population reaches that eight or nine billion people, he predicts that it will drop even lower.
Global Population Projections
Experts agree that the UN projections are correct but also think that populations will start to decline eventually:
"If you look at some of the results from some of the alternative projections that some other research groups have produced, the alternative kind of future scenarios that different researchers have produced tend to be even more conservative, to expect this overall decline to happen a bit earlier, and eventually a bit faster than we anticipate," says Patrick Gerland, chief of the population estimates and projections section in the UN's population division.
People Are Having Less Kids, Which Is Just As Detrimental
Patrick Gerland sees a different perspective. With people having fewer children, he asks us to think of how many siblings our grandparents had compared to us to feel some relief about projections:
"Every time I say, OK, these are a lot of big numbers. Stop. Think about your grandparents. How many brothers and sisters did they have? Now think about your parents? How many brothers and sisters do they have? Think about you? How many brothers and sisters do you have? Think about your kids? How many brothers and sisters do they have?"
Seen In China And India
India and China hold the record for the world's biggest populations by country. India is predicted to surpass China as the world's most populated country in 2023, according to the UN. Yet still, birth rates are on the decline almost everywhere.
In Canada, the annual growth rate has dropped from three percent in the late 1950s to about 0.7 percent in 2020. Their neighbors in the U.S. went from just more than two percent in the late 1950s to about 0.2 percent in 2020. Even in China and India, this trend can be seen.
The declining population is now becoming a problem of its own, especially for the aging populations: "These kinds of transformational changes have happened within one generation. So the story is basically that many, many, many countries and regions face a certain type of problem that is already starting to become more [challenging because] of the population aging, " says Garland.
This Is What It Means For Humanity
Other than food scarcity and increasing prices, we may be about to face two new challenges. Bricker says that a decline in births and an aging population will make the world look different, especially economically.
With life expectancy getting longer, we'll also face shortages with healthcare services. The problem with the aging population is also that they no longer need to consume. There won't be as many people to buy cars or fancy homes, making it harder to maintain our current economy.
An Unknown Future
For now, there are no clear solutions for the life of humanity. Earth is in a fragile state. Between environmental concerns, food insecurity, increasing and declining populations, and prices we can't keep up with, where is humanity going? Our days could be numbered by our own self-sabotage.
"I think that we're kind of sleepwalking into a future that's going to be very difficult to manage," Bricker concludes, "And that there are going to be all sorts of challenges that we need to start thinking about today."
What About Your Future?
While population affects us a collective, you still have your unique mark to leave in the world. Are you still searching for your life purpose? You won't believe what the science of Numerology can reveal about you!
That's right, the numerology of your birth date, regardless of what month you were born, can reveal surprising information about your personality.