Population and resources

Population and resources

How can population and resources be brought into balance?


Short Overview

Current world population is 7.3 billion. It is expected to grow another 1 billion in just 12 years, and 2.3 billion in 35 years. This will create unprecedented demand for food, water, energy, and employment. Population growth is expected to be most rapid in the 49 least developed countries, doubling in size from about 900 million today to 1.8 billion in 2050. There were only 1 billion humans in 1804; 2 billion in 1927; 6 billion in 1999; and 7.3 billion today. UN forecasts a range from 8.3 billion to 10.9 billion people by 2050, with 9.6 billion as the mid-projection. For 2100, the  UN Projects an 80% probability that the world’s population will be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion.

According to UN estimates, by 2050, over 70% of the human population will live in urban areas. The UN-HABITAT estimates the annual urban population increase between 2007 and 2025 in developing regions to be 53 million (or 2.3%), compared to a mere 3 million (or 0.5%) in developed regions. The growth of urban areas will present many social, economic, and environmental challenges in the future, particularly for cities in developing countries that struggle to keep up with the rapid changes. With expansion of private car ownership, urban cities become more congested; time losses from traffic congestion are estimated to cost the equivalent of 2% GDP in Europe and 2–5% in Asia. In the near future, computer driven driver-less cars and trucks are expected to dramatically reduce congestion. New approaches to urban systems ecology and smarter cities are beginning to be invented and implemented that should improve environmental impacts. See Global Challenges 2 on water and 13 on energy for additional approaches on addressing these resources for the growing populations.


06 May 2017


Society, Technology, Environment

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