DATE: July 7, 2017
SNIP: Last month the UN finalized the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects report. Among other things, the report predicts human population growth trends — including where population will be centered and how many people will be added to the planet in the future. And once again, the UN has had to revise those predictions.
Human population is growing even faster than we thought it would be just two years ago. According to the most recent revision, there will be an estimated 9.8 billion people on the planet by 2050. That’s up from 9.7 billion from the revision two years ago. And in the 2013 revision to the report? The prediction was 9.6 billion.
Noticing a pattern? It isn’t that the UN is bad at math; human population is growing, and instead of tapering off or even trending down, it’s skyrocketing. And for wildlife and the environment pushed to extinction and demolished to make way for humans, this trend is bad news.
And while .1 billion might not seem like a scary figure, we should put that into perspective. That’s 100 million more people than we previously expected. That’s like adding another Beijing, Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Jakarta and Delhi to the world. So we’re either talking about the impact of another 8 to 10 megacities, or we’re talking about 100 million more people living in abject poverty, or we’re talking about an astonishing amount of sprawl taking over our remaining wild places. Or all of the above. And that’s on top of the previously projected growth of more than 2 billion people added to today’s population.