The world’s population is expected to reach 7 billion by this October. As this milestone approaches, the United Nations has issued a report stating that global population levels will rise to 9.3 billion by 2050 and 10.1 billion by 2100. So which countries will be most affected by this population growth, and how will it affect the environment? [img_assist|nid=239222|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=192|height=290]
The report implicates Africa as the continent that will contribute the most to the global population expansion. Fertility rates are not declining as much as expected, particularly in West and Central Africa. One reason behind this is because people in these parts of Africa have less access to contraceptives than people in the developed world. Compared with 75% of American households who use contraceptives, only 10% of women in West Africa and only 7% of women in Central Africa use them.
However, this is not the whole story. According to a study by Harvard scientists, the availability of contraceptives is less of a factor in family planning than the ability of women to decide whether to use them. This ability is not easy to obtain; male-oriented households and traditions such as polygamy hinder the ability of African women to determine the course of their lives. Also, many women are not educated very well in Africa. Because they are often illiterate, they are unable to understand the resources necessary to plan their families.
In case you were wondering, AIDS is not as much of a problem for Africa’s population as it used to be. This is because drugs which fight the disease have allowed many who suffer from it to survive and have children. However, the possibilities of war and famine still exist to hinder the growth of Africa’s population.
Some of the countries with the highest growth rates include Nigeria, whose population will grow from 162 million to 730 million by 2100; Malawi, whose population could grow from 15 million to 129 million; and Yemen, whose population could grow from 25 million to 100 million.
But not all developing countries are experiencing rapid population growth. Places such as Bangladesh, Iran, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have been successful at controlling their populations. This is because women in these countries are being provided with information about birth-control methods through well-designed programs. Because many women in these places have learned how to control the size of their families, fewer children are being born.
A slight increase in the fertility rate of developed countries will also contribute to overall population growth. The US will see its population rise from 311 million this year to 478 million in 2100. It is growing rapidly compared to other developed countries due to its large amount of immigrants and their greater fertility rates. Other developed countries whose populations are set to increase include the UK and Denmark.
However, the population of China, currently the world’s most populated country, will peak at 1.4 billion people in the next few decades and eventually decline to 941 million in 2100. This has been due to their one-child policy, which has been successful in reducing China’s population.
One consequence of an overpopulated world is the depletion of nonrenewable resources. As the majority of people being born are poor, they will use the cheapest resources available. However, these cheap resources are often not environmentally friendly and cause plenty of pollution. Since poor people usually do not have the option of moving away from sources of pollution, they could also catch a variety of diseases.
These people will also use more space to live, requiring the destruction of more habitats. These habitats contain a variety of plants of animals, some of which may provide unknown medicinal or nutritional benefits. Once habitats are destroyed, it will be difficult to restore them.
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