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Overpopulation Rears Its Ugly Head

The UN commissars of doom and gloom have just armed themselves with a new statistic: according to a recent study, world population is on track to reach a higher level than anyone realized. The new report predicts that the earth will hold 11 billion people by 2100. This number is 8 percent higher than the one the UN offered two years ago. The fertility rate in Africa has apparently declined at a slower rate than expected, leaving the world with a potentially serious population crunch. Africa alone is predicated to see its population quadruple from 1.1 to 4.2 billion.

This is is big news, and it will make people understandably jittery. But experience tells us that demographic projections are subject to frequent change, so it’s too early to know what this means for sure. Moreover, statistics in Africa often lend a weird aura of certainty to things no one really knows. Many babies are born away from hospitals in countries that cannot and do not take reliable censuses or issue birth certificates for every child. In these circumstances, changes in the accuracy of estimates of current population could also drive large swings in the demographic forecast.

Nonetheless, neo-Malthusian doomsayers will undoubtedly seize on this number as evidence that the human race is in serious trouble. Starvation, environmental damage, and soylent green are just around the corner. But if there’s one constant in history, it’s that human beings have a resiliency and a capacity for innovation that has repeatedly given the lie to Malthusian breast-beating. Our age is no exception. In an era when we are seeing everything from special filters that can convert sea water to fresh water to high-yield desert farming, we are more than prepared to meet the challenge of a growing population.

[Image of African Well from Hector Conesa / Shutterstock]

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  • Corlyss

    I’m preternaturally suspicious of anything the UN reports on. Too many of their conclusions and their recommended actions mirror crackpots like Paul Ehrlich (a notorious Liar For Justice) and John Hansen (NASA’s resident crazy uncle who couldn’t be kept in the attic) for me to put any credence in them. If the UN were to issue a report that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, I’d want ample substantiation before I’d believe a word of it.

  • Philopoemen

    Only 11 billion? That doesn’t seem like very much at all. We could probably support that population with today’s technology, let alone what we’ll have at our disposal in 100 years.

  • Brian H

    It’s all Bulloney. The “Low Band” of the UN population survey, if you bother to open and look at their spreadsheet, is the only one that has been accurate for decades. And it predicts falling population after about 2040, peaking at about 8 bn.

  • Jim__L

    We’re more likely to see intermittent genocides (in the style of Rwanda’s), and/or massive out-migrations, than we are likely to see an Africa that holds 4.2B people.

    Heck, by 2100, we could see practical out-migration from this planet. 87 years is a long time, and aerospace technology is advancing just like every other kind.

  • Luis Carlos Zardo

    Yes, there´s innovation, but, there´s also something called HISTORY and this article´s author should benefit immensely by reading it.

    What normally happens when a population exceeds it´s environment capacity is that this population have to move away (innovation) or, if unable to do so, this population dies (easter island, for example)

    But, the problem at the moment is, we are destroying the very beauty of this planet in exchange to filling it with billions and billions of us living in the middle of our own excrement, that should be reason enough to be concerned about overpopulation…

    It doesn´t really matter if we can live on processed, synthetic foodstuff inside caves using breathing apparatus to survive, it´s simply stupid to WANT to live like this if we have a so much simple choice:


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