Global Population May Increase to 10 Billion by 2100

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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Spanish Study Shows Squid Are Fatally Disoriented By Sonar

According to a new study by the Technical University of Catalonia in Barcelona, squid and other cephalopods are affected by sound waves similarly to marine mammals such as whales and dolphins. Although it has been hypothesized to be the case, it had never before been observed in cephalopods until this study was done.

The most important outcome of this study so far is that it provides an explanation for what caused the deaths of giant squid in the early 2000’s in Spain’s Asturias province. Several dead giant squid were observed in this province shortly after ships had transmitted low-frequency sound pulses. Some of these ships were involved in oil and gas prospecting. 

Scientists who had studied the dead squid at the time observed that their muscles were bruised and their mantles were reduced to pulp. Lesions also affected their statocysts, organs which are located behind the eyes of giant squid and help to maintain their balance. However, scientists could not conclusively tie these deaths to sound waves at the time and needed time to research the possibility.

The experiment some of them eventually conducted in Catalonia involved 87 individual cephalopods. These individuals came from two species of squid, one species of octopus, and one species of cuttlefish. They were exposed to sound for two hours with frequencies ranging from 50 to 400 Hertz and intensities between 157 and 175 decibels.  These frequencies were chosen because they are commonly heard in noise-producing activities such as military sonar tests or tests to detect oil and natural gas beneath the seabed.   

Some of the cephalopods were killed immediately after listening to these frequencies, but others were allowed to live longer, up to 96 hours. Scientists then examined their tissues to see the extent of the damage. These cephalopods were primarily impaired through losing the use of certain hairlike structures in stratocyst cells that help them balance in water. They became crippled through these structures, and those that were allowed to live longer developed visible holes in their tissues. In their final minutes, it is said that they “moved a little bit, but they were not swimming, eating, or mating” according to Michel André, a marine bioacoustician at the Technical University of Catalonia.

There was also a control group of about a hundred cephalopods who were raised in the same aquariums under the same conditions as those who were tested, but were not subjected to the sound waves. This group remained healthy and did not show any of the symptoms mentioned above. Both groups of cephalopods were healthy before the testing occurred.

 Although these cephalopods were smaller than giant squid, experts say that these results were also applicable to them. However, the damage to the giant squid was far more extensive than to the cephalopods. This was because the giant squid were exposed to the sound waves for a much larger period of time, at a greater intensity, and from multiple sources.  

The giant squid could have died in one of two ways: either from the direct impact of the sound waves or by getting disoriented from an impaired sensory organ. If a giant squid got disoriented, it could surface, not knowing that it could not handle the rapid change in temperature and pressure.

The idea that the squid were disoriented is supported by studies showing that when whales are exposed to sonar, they suffer symptoms similar to what divers call “the bends.” These symptoms occur when a diver is surfacing too rapidly. The extreme pressure change makes nitrogen bubbles form in the blood and vital organs. If not treated properly, it can cause fatal damage to the brain and lungs.

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Europe’s Transportation Shift Away From Gasoline Cars

Italian-high-speed-trainThe European Commission, an executive branch of the EU, recently released a report detailing its plan to cut gasoline usage in half by 2030 and eliminate the use of gasoline in cars by 2050. It is claimed that these measures would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by up to 60%. But these measures would also shift the primary modes of long-distance travel from cars and airplanes to ships and railways.

In fact, no gasoline-powered cars would be allowed in city centers at all. This would would not only decrease congestion and smog; it would also decrease auto accidents. 69% of car accidents currently occur in urban areas in Europe. These measures may also reduce the number of people killed in car accidents by 20% by 2020 and eliminate deaths entirely by 2050. Cars and other vehicles would also be subject to taxation depending on how energy-efficient they are; the less energy-efficient a vehicle is, the more it would be taxed.  

This plan has been met with some resistance in the UK because it is seen as unrealistic to ban cars from city centers. In fact, the head of the Association for British Drivers believed that Siim Kallas’ plan would plunge Europe into a new dark age. UK Transport Minister Norman Baker took a less divisive stance, stating, “It is right that the EU sets high-level targets for carbon reduction, however it is not right for them to get involved in how this is delivered in individual cities.” He also added that the UK believes in reducing carbon emissions through incentives such as promoting the use of electric cars, walking, and cycling.

Airports would be hit by this gas phaseout in various ways. First of all, airlines would have to increase the amount of low-carbon fuel their planes used, which would gradually increase until it reaches 40% low-carbon fuel by 2050. And airline flights shorter than 186 miles (300 meters) would be phased out by this time. Conveniently enough, all major airports would have to be connected to railways by 2050, so people could easily get to destinations within the 186-mile limit

Like airports, seaports would also have to be connected to the railway system by 2050. While airports would be connected to it for the convenience of travelers, seaports would be connected to it to reduce the amount of trucks and buses needed to ship goods. Maritime fuels would also be affected, with the amount of fuel in use to be reduced by 40% (and up to 50% if possible) by 2050.

Shipping would be greatly affected by this measure. This is because the EU wants to reduce the impact of shipping to only 40% of its carbon emissions by 2050. By 2030, 30% of road freight traveling less than 186 miles would shift to railways or water routes, and this would also increase to 50% by 2050. Freight trucks traveling in cities would also have to be carbon-free.

The European Commission’s document clearly emphasizes that there would be a better connections between rail lines, roads, and waterways. In fact, the “Single European Transport Area” outlined in it would include a single air traffic control system and a more extensive high-speed rail system, among other things. 

However, this plan will cost at least 1.5 trillion euros to implement. Despite the enormity of this task, Siim Kallas, the European Commissioner for Transport, is optimistic about its success. “The widely-held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true. We can break the transport system’s dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility.”  

Photo Credit: Jollyroger