The world’s population has surpassed eight billion people in both ‘a sign of human success’ but ‘a great risk for our future’.
Regions already facing resource scarcity due to climate change will face further hardship as numbers surge.
Food, water, batteries and gasoline are among the items expected to be within shorter supply.
African nations, most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, are expected to suffer the most from this resource pressure.
In sub-Saharan Africa, where around 738 million people already live without adequate food supplies, the population is projected to jump by 95% by mid-century, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace.
The think tank warned in an October report that much of sub-Saharan Africa will be unsustainable by mid-century.
Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director with the Center for Biological Diversity, said: ‘Every single person needs fuel, wood, water, and a place to call home.’
By the 2080s, the global population is expected to grow by a further 2.4 billion.
Reaching the current eight billion figure is ‘a sign of human success, but it’s also a great risk for our future,’ said John Wilmoth, director of the U.N.’s population division.
He added: ‘A big part of this story is that this era of rapid population growth that the world has known for centuries is coming to an end.’
Middle-income countries, mostly in Asia, accounted for most of that growth, gaining some 700 million people since 2011.
India is set to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation next year.
Meanwhile, births have been steadily declining in the United States, Europe, and Japan. China, too, has struggled with the legacy of its One Child Policy program and last year urged families to have a second and even third child as it also limited access to non-medical abortions.
Even while the global population reaches ever-new highs, demographers note that the growth rate has fallen steadily to less than 1% per year.
This should keep the world from reaching 9 billion people until 2037.
The U.N. projects population will peak at around 10.4 billion people in the 2080s and remain at that level until 2100.
‘African cities will, on average, grow,’ said Deborah Balk, a demographic researcher at the City University of New York.
‘This will leave millions more urban dwellers exposed to climate threats such as rising seas.’
Across the world, ‘the coastal zone is disproportionately urban,’ she added, explaining that about one in 10 people live in the low-lying coastal zone.
The coastal Nigerian city of Lagos, for example, is projected to become the world’s largest city by century’s end.
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