Environment: Overpopulation and On-line Accompanying Reading

Topics: World population, Overpopulation, Population Pages: 20 (5807 words) Published: January 11, 2014
Populations: A Numbers Game
Author and Page information
by Anup Shah
This Page Last Updated Sunday, September 02, 2001
This page: http://www.globalissues.org/article/199/population-numbers. To print all information e.g. expanded side notes, shows alternative links, use the print version: http://www.globalissues.org/print/article/199

The human population of the planet is estimated to now have passed 6 billion people. This can be seen as a success story (as the previous link mentions), due to improved health care and reduced infant mortality while expanding life spans. However, a common concern is that as the population continues to increase, it will place more strain on the environment, on nations’ ability to provide, economies to grow and society to flourish. This web page has the following sub-sections:

1. Population Numbers
2. Overpopulation or not? Who do we believe?
3. Assumptions and frameworks to explain population growth
1. Malthusian perspectives
2. Demographic Transition
4. What affects population growths and declines, anyway?
1. Gender empowerment
2. Economics and poverty
3. Are increasing populations a cause of problems, or effects of others? Population Numbers
The United Nations Population Fund estimate the population will rise to around 9.3 billion by 2050: World population reached 6.1 billion in mid-2000 and is currently growing at an annual rate of 1.2 per cent, or 77 million people per year. Six countries account for half of this annual growth: India for 21 per cent; China for 12 per cent; Pakistan for 5 per cent; Nigeria for 4 per cent; Bangladesh for 4 per cent, and Indonesia for 3 per cent. By 2050, world population is expected to be between 7.9 billion (low variant) and 10.9 billion (high variant), with the medium variant producing 9.3 billion. — World Population Prospects, The 2000 Revision Highlights, United Nations Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 28 February 2001, p.5 Population densities also vary between regions:

Population in 2001
Country
Total (in millions)
Density (People per square kilometer)
GNP rank
Sources:
Population and density figures are from Population, Environment and Development 2001, United Nations Population Division home page. GNP data from Size of Economy (GNP) from Table 1.1, World Development Report 2000, World Bank China

1,285
134
7
India
1,025
312
11
United States
286
31
1
Indonesia
214
113
30
Russian Federation
145
8
16
Bangladesh
140
975
53
Japan
127
337
2
Nigeria
117
127
55
Germany
82
230
3
United Kingdom
60
244
5
France
59
108
4
Italy
58
191
6
Some notes on the above data:
I list some nations, (not the full list of course, for which you can follow the cited sources!) initially by GNP. I list the main economic powerhouses plus India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria and Bangladesh, as nations that have highest population growths. We see that some developed countries have higher densities than developing ones, and also vica versa. As we will see in the consumption part of this section, some of the wealthier nations, even if they have smaller populations, consume more resources. Large populations in and of themselves may not be a bad thing. Many cities in Europe for example, have a higher population density compared to places we normally think of as over crowded, such as India or China. However, where it could cause problems is if demands on natural resources and development increases in an unsustainable and wasteful way, which, unfortunately is how it seems to be happening in many places today. It was especially during imperial/colonial times that the small European nations (the “centers of capital and empire”) with large densities had to get their resources from the colonized nations (the “peripheries of empire”) to maintain their high standards of living (and this was really the wealthier classes in Europe, not all people). The Imperial European nations’ ecological footprint was...

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