OVERPOPULATION - APOCALYPTIC PROPHECY?
Never before in history have there been so many people on earth as there are right now. our numbers have sky rocketed from 1 billion in 1800, to 2.3 billion in 1840, to 3.7 billion in 1970, and 7.4 billion in 2016. The world population increased four fold in the past century, so what can we expect for the next century? And what does population growth mean for our future? Will there be mass migration? over crowed slums in mega cities? Diseases and pollution? Chaos and violence over energy and food? Will population growth destroy our way of life or is this prophecy just underground panic?
In the 19 60's population growth reached an unprecedented rate, which led to apocalyptic prophecies. The poor would procreate endlessly and over run the developed world, the legend of over population was born. As it turns out high birth rates and the population explosion are not permanent features of some cultures or countries but rather part of a four step process the whole world is going though - the demographic transition. Most developed countries have already made this transition, while other countries are doing it right now.
Lets go back to the 18th century when the entire world - including Europe was in the first stage of the
demographic transition. By today's standards, Europe was worse off than a developing region, suffering from poor sanitation, poor diets and poor medicine. A lot of people were born, but a lot of people died and so the population hardly grew. Women had between four and six children but only an average of two would reach adult hood. The the industrial revolution happened in the UK and brought the greatest change in human living conditions since the agricultural revolution. People went from being peasants to workers, manufactured goods were mass produced and became widespread, the sciences flourished and advanced transportation, communication, and medicine. The role of women in society shifted and created the conditions for their emancipation. Slowly this economic progress not only formed a middle class but also raised standards of living and health care for the poor working population. The second transition stage started. Better food supplies, hygiene, and medicine meant people stopped dying all the time especially so at a very young age. The result was a population explosion, doubling the UK's population between 1750 and 1850. The main reason that families used to have so many children was because only a few of them were likely to survive. Now that had changed, so the third stage of the transition was set in motion. Fewer babies were conceived and population growth slowed down. Eventually, a balance emerged, fewer people were dying and fewer children were born so the death rate and birth rate became stable. The UK had reached the fourth stage of the demographic transition. This didn't only happen in the UK, more and more countries went through the four stage transition.
First - many births and many deaths due to bad living conditions.
Second - better living conditions lead to fewer deaths and a population explosion.
Third - Fewer deaths resulting in fewer births, and population growth can to an end.
Fourth - The population levels off so that birth rate is approximately = to death rate.
But, if birth rates have dropped so much then why is the population still growing so much? Well, the children born in the population explosion of the 70's and 80's are having kids themselves now, leading to a noticeable spike in overall population. They are however, having far fewer children on average than their parents. The average today is 2.5, while the average 40 years ago was 5. So as this generation gets older and fertility declines further the rate of population growth will keep on slowing. This is true for every country. In the west, we tend to over look progress in other regions, but actually most of the worlds countries have made it to the fourth stage. Just look at Bangladesh in 1971 the average woman had 7 kids but 25% of them would die before the age of 5. In 2015 the mortality rate was down to 3.8% and women had only 2.2 kids on average. The is the rule, not an exception. We (western countries) are not special, we just had a head start. It took developed countries about 80 years to reduce fertility from more than 6 children to less than 3. Others are catching up fast, Malaysia and south Africa did it in only 34 years, Bangladesh took just 20, Iran managed it in 10 years. All these countries which are catching up didn't have to start from scratch and the more support they get, the faster they catch up. This is why programs which help lower child mortality or help poorer nations to develop are so important.
No matter what your motivation is, whether you dream of a world where all people live in freedom and wealth, or you just want fewer refugees coming to your country. The simple truth is that it's beneficial to you personally if people on the other side of the world can live a good life. We are getting their. The percentages of people living in extreme poverty has never been as low as it is in 2017.
THE FUTURE OF GLOBAL POPULATION GROWTH IS NOT AN APOCALYPTIC PROPHECY BUT RATHER A PROMISE
population growth will come to an end. The UN forecasts that the 12th billion human will never be born at all.In addition, as the development level of the world rises, the number of people with a higher education will increase 10 fold.