World population fast approaching seven billion mark

June 20th, 2008 - 2:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 20 (IANS) There will be seven billion people in the world by 2012, putting a huge strain on natural resources, according to an estimate released by the US Census Bureau. About 300 million will be added in four years to the current world population of 6.7 billion people. It took about 13 years to add the seventh billion.

By comparison, the number of people didn’t even reach one billion until 1800, Carl Haub, a demographer at the US Population Reference Bureau, has been quoted as saying in the report released Thursday.

The population didn’t reach two billion until 130 years later. While the third billion took about 30 years to add, reaching the figure in 1959, the next three billion were added at a fast trot, taking about 40 years.

“You can easily see the effect of rapid population growth in developing countries,” Haub said.

China, the most populous country, has 1.33 billion people, followed by India at 1.15 billion. The US ranks third with 304 million people.

Haub ascribed the population explosion following World War II to medical and nutritional advances in developing countries. Cultural changes, like more women in developing countries going to school and joining the work force, were slowing the growth rate, though it remained high in many countries.

The global population is growing by about 1.2 percent per year while the figure for India is higher at 1.6 percent and China has controlled it to 0.6 percent. India’s population will reach 1.5 billion in 2025, to come at par with China’s, and will outnumber China by 2050.

The US Census Bureau projects the global growth rate will decline to 0.5 percent by 2050. It updates projections each year on a variety of global demographic trends, including fertility and mortality rates and life expectancy.

US life expectancy has surpassed 78 years for the first time, the National Centre for Health Statistics announced last week.

The new census report comes amid food shortages and record high oil prices, fuelled in part by growing demand from expanding economies in China and India.

Expert demographers offer no consensus on how many people the Earth can sustain. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, was quoted as saying that it depends on how well people manage the earth’s resources.

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