Global Population Trends Signal Coming Dangers

Barry Mirkin says revised United Nations population estimates are a signal of coming dangers, particularly as fertility rates in underdeveloped nations continue to rise.

Currently at 7.2 billion, the world is projected to increase by almost another billion people, climbing to 8.1 billion by 2025. Furthermore, according to the UN estimates, the globe can anticipate a billion more people in a decade and another 2 billion by the end of the century for a total of 10.9 billion.

While fertility rates in the developed world have declined, particularly in Europe, their populations are living longer and many governments are ill-prepared for dealing with the increase of elderly citizens.

Mirkin also notes that half of the world’s population lives in urban centers.

“Most of the planet’s people will live in cities. Virtually all expected population growth will be concentrated in the urban areas of poor countries increasing the threat of pollution and epidemic. By 2050, the number of people living in cities will almost be equal to today’s world population. In 1950, only two cities in the world had at least 10 million inhabitants. Today, 23 megacities have more than 10 million inhabitants; by 2025, the number of megacities is projected to reach 37,” he writes.

The close proximity is not an inconsequential matter as the prevalence of communicable diseases increase. A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that more than half the world’s population is at risk from the growing threat of vector borne diseases. Some regions are impacted more dramatically than others the authors found. For example, 40 percent of those at risk from malaria live in southeast Asia.

In related news, the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project conducted an in-depth analysis of religious diversity around the world focusing on the five primary regions.

“Looking at the percentage of each country’s population that belongs to the eight major religious categories included in the study, 12 countries have a very high degree of religious diversity. Six of the 12 are in the Asia-Pacific region (Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, China and Hong Kong); five are in sub-Saharan Africa (Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Ivory Coast, Benin and Mozambique); and one is in Latin America and the Caribbean (Suriname). No countries in Europe, North America or the Middle East-North Africa region have a very high degree of religious diversity as measured in this study,” the authors note.

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