Total Pageviews

Monday, March 21, 2016


Five years ago, just about when the world population reached 7 billion, I published in The Huffington Post:

Read that posting for my reasons, for this was my conclusion:

So what are the prospects of Planet Earth at 7 billion in 2050? Probably scant. Humanity declined around 70,000 years ago to only a thousand breeding pairswhen Mount Toba erupted in Indonesia, and again dropped because of the Black Death epidemic 600 or so years ago, but most demographers don’t take doomsday scenarios into their projections, and worry more that we will begin to reach 10 billion by 2050. Either way, society will be in trouble.  (World Population day this year is on July 11.)

Okay, but what about the Year 2100?  The United Nations predicts 11.2 billion.  But they have been so wrong in the past on too many things.  For example, this same UN as recently as 2010 said 16 billion in 2100.  You've got to give them credit, though, for making a quick adjustment after my wild guess.  Further, they safely covered themselves, for the UN with good reason, I suppose, also offered a low of just over 6 billion in 2100:

That's lower than my prognostication.

Speaking of lows, in 2010 Tokyo had a population of 13.16 million, and was expected to tick up to 13.35 in 2020.  That might well happen, but the latest official report by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is that in 2100, Tokyo will drop to 7.13 million, almost half.  Further, 46% of them will be older than 65.    You think Japan might be in further trouble?

Equally of concern, their National Institute of Population and Social Security Research warned that from a current population of 126 million, the entire country of Japan in 2100 will have 50 million, a 60% drop!  As ruinous as the above appears, Japan's drop is just 0.077%/year.  Germany is losing people at three times the Japan rate/year.  

Most of the former Soviet Union countries are declining, with Latvia and Lithuania leading the pack with losses of more than 1%/year.     Most of the Eastern European countries only began counting around 1990.  Since then:
  • Armenia has dropped by 10%
  • Albania by nearly 10%.
  • Bosnia 15%.
  • Bulgaria 24%.
  • Estonia 19%.
  • Latvia 26%.
  • Lithuania 24%
  • Romania 16%.
  • Russia....only 4%.  However, to the right is another UN conjecture.
Puerto Rico is at -3%, while many islands of the Pacific are experiencing greater than 2% decreases/year.

Mind you, the world population is growing at a rate of 1.2%, with Africa increasing at a robust 2.5%. Divide that % into 70, and you will get a doubling in 28 years.  Africa recently passed 1 billion people.  This is where most of the world growth will occur.  Thus, making all the calculations, at this sustained growth rate, Africa by itself will be close to 7 billion in 2100.  For a variety of reasons, this will just not happen.

According to this Wiki-article, in 2025 the metropolitan area of Tokyo will be #1 with 36.4 million.  (Note that you will see wildly differing populations for cities because it depends on urban area, or metropolitan or whatever.)  By 2050 India will have more people than China (this could happen as early as 2022, but China recently relaxed its one-child policy) and Mumbai will have the largest metropolitan with 58 million.  However, in 2100, the projection is Lagos, Nigeria #1 with 77 million.  Note that the combined metropolitan population today of New York City plus Chicago plus Los Angeles is just below 43 million.

What, by the way, is the ideal future population of our planet, considering the carrying capacity and the hope of a reasonably satisfactory lifestyle for every person? Here is one thought:

Global Footprint Network data shows that humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 planet Earths to provide the renewable resources we use and absorb our waste.1  If all 7+ billion of us were to enjoy a European standard of living - which is about half the consumption of the average American - the Earth could sustainably support only about 2 billion people.  

Even the United Nations (Environmental Program) has chimed in:

...looking at 94 different estimates of the upper bounds of Earth’s population found estimates ranging from a low of 500 000 000 to a high of 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000.

So we are down to a billion, max, a number many visionaries suggest as optimal.

So what will be the Homo sapiens population of Planet Earth in 2100?  Well, there is a high certainty that the United Nations (above graph) will be right:  somewhere between 6 billion and 16 billion.  16 billion would be a disaster in a chaotic world.  6 billion could happen with serious virus and/or alien attacks, or world leaders coming to their senses.  What are the odds any of this occurring?  It's difficult enough trying to predict what will happen this year.  Eighty four years from now?  I don't know.


No comments: