Projections from the United Nations suggest that humans may number 10 billion by 2050 and 15 billion by the year 2100. Both of these statistics guarantee problems for a world having difficulty meeting the food and water needs of its current seven billion inhabitants, according to B.C. academic and author Steve Bareham.

“People having children today should be concerned — 2050 is just 38 years away,” he said. “While 15 billion is unfathomable, 10 billion by 2050 is still the equivalent of another China and another India. In addition to food and water disparities, it’s likely that people will face worsening pollution, more dramatic climate change, socio-economic strife, growing inequities between developed and developing nations, and the extinction of thousands more animal species.

“Until recently,” said Bareham, an instructor at Selkirk College, Nelson, B.C, “the UN cited about nine billion by 2050 (see footnote*), then a levelling off and gradual decline, as global prosperity spread and as developing nations followed the lead of the developed countries toward fewer children per family. Evidence now, however, indicates fertility rates are not declining as expected in the developing countries, so the revision to the higher ranges has a lot more credence. If those come to pass, it’s difficult to imagine a better world for today’s young people by 2050, let alone 2100.”

Bareham discovered the little-known UN statistics while researching courses in cross cultural communication and conflict management.

“In addition to food and water disparities, it’s likely that people will face worsening pollution, more dramatic climate change, socio-economic strife, growing inequities between developed and developing nations, and the extinction of thousands more animal species. While 15 billion is unfathomable, even the 10 billion number by 2050 is the equivalent of another China and another India,” he said.

“The epicentre of growth will be Africa; its population now stands at about one billion but is projected to reach 3.6 billion by 2100, and that continent already has problems supporting its peoples. Conversely,” he notes, “the Italians and several other European nationalities, are theoretically on their way to extinction because their birth rates have dropped below the 2.1 replacement ratio.”

Many statisticians believe the higher population projections are likely to transpire, given the exponential growth of humans over time. “Consider,” said Bareham, “that it took from the beginning of time until the year 1804 for one billion people to inhabit the earth. Then, human numbers exploded:

  • 2 billion people by 1927    (123 years to double)
  • 3 billion people by 1959    (32 years)
  • 4 billion people by 1974    (15 years)
  • 5 billion people by 1986    (12 years)
  • 7 billion people by 2012    (26 years)”

Bareham said about 131 million babies are born each year and 57 million people die. “This means the global population grows annually by 74 million people. At that rate, it takes just 13.5 years to add another billion people. Into this mix, consider that people live longer, while infant mortality rates continue to decline. More older people and more younger people—the population juggernaut is not slowing.

“Ethnocentrism and xenophobia are also likely to come into play,” he said. “The potential for armed conflict is great as food and water scarcity become chronic in many developing nations. People who are starving and/or dying of thirst will have nothing to lose by demanding access to the resources of the richer nations. And if history is a guide, the haves will not share willing with the have-not’s if sharing threatens their own survival.”

Bareham has written a two-ebook set to draw attention to an issue about which many people are totally unaware. “Young people contemplating families should know what may face them by 2050 and what may confront their children by 2100. I took a radically different approach in the book by wrapping a lot of facts within a fictional plot. It’s educational fiction. The fact-based content is woven into a plot about an ancient order of Mayan monks attempting to stop introduction of a new longevity drug by a modern-day conglomerate.

“I hope that interweaving fact and fiction will make the book more accessible and more enjoyable than a dry research paper. It also includes a number of solutions that world governments could work toward.”

*UNITED NATIONS SOURCE DOCUMENT:*“…the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in its World Population Prospects: (May 2011) foresees a global population of 9.3 billion people at 2050, an increase over earlier estimates, and more than 10 billion by the end of this century—and that scenario assumes lower fertility rates over time. With only a small variation in fertility, particularly in the more populous countries, the total could be higher: 10.6 billion people could be living on Earth by 2050 and more than 15 billion in 2100, the Population Division estimates. “Much of this increase is expected to come from the high-fertility countries, which comprise 39 in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Oceania and four in Latin America.”

Page 4 of UN report: http://foweb.unfpa.org/SWP2011/reports/EN-SWOP2011-FINAL.pdf


THE AUTHOR: Steve Bareham teaches management courses at Selkirk College, Nelson, B.C. Before entering the classroom, he worked for 26 years as an editor/reporter at five Canadian dailies, and in public relations at TransAlta, Simon Fraser University, and the B.C. School Trustees Association. He has written ten books through publishers such as HarperCollins and McGraw-Hill Ryerson. Two new eBooks tht detail the impending overpopulation threat are titled PROGENETER.