Is population growth out of control?



The respected broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, told the BBC recently that population growth was “out of control” – but one expert says the number of people on the planet could peak in 40 years. Who should we believe?

“The world’s population is increasing out of control,” Sir David told the BBC’s Today programme.

“Since I first started making programmes 60 years ago, the human population has tripled.”

Two striking claims.

Let’s take the second one first – that the world’s population has tripled in 60 years.

In 1950, around the time Sir David began his broadcasting career, there were 2.53 billion people in the world. Sixty-three years later and the latest estimate of world population is 7.16 billion.

That is a little shy of tripling – more like a factor of 2.8 – but it’s not far off.

The “out of control” claim is less easily measurable, but perhaps it could be interpreted as the idea that the population will continue to grow at the same rate, roughly tripling in 60 years.

If this happened, the world population would reach almost 40 billion people by the end of this century.

But the latest United Nations projection puts the figure at little more than a quarter of that – less than 11 billion.

That’s still 50% more than we have today, but it shows the UN expects much slower population growth in the decades to come than in decades gone by.

Some might consider that an increase in the world population from seven billion to 11 billion by 2100 still represents out-of-control population growth.

But this UN figure – contained in its World Population Prospects, published every two years – is considered by one expert, at least, to be much too high.

“When I looked at them I discovered that they were almost certainly wrong,” says Sanjeev Sanyal, Global Strategist for Deutsche Bank, of the latest update of the World Population Prospects, released in June this year.

Population growth projections feed into many other forecasts and models – projections of energy use, for example, or corporate profits – so people like Sanyal scrutinise these UN figures carefully.

“Much of Europe, Japan, large countries like China, even Brazil, don’t produce [the necessary] 2.2 or 2.3 babies [per woman]. Some of them are way below that level and as a result it is almost certain that these huge countries are going to see rapidly declining populations within a few decades from now.”

The replacement rate is higher than two, because some women will die before they reach the end of their child-bearing years.

Also, in developing countries the UN predicts rapidly expanding populations.

In Nigeria, for example, it expects the current figure of roughly 160 million to increase to almost one billion by the end of the century.

Sanyal is sceptical.

“Surely Nigerians will recognise at some points that things are getting crowded and stop having so many babies?” he argues.

He predicts the Nigerian population in 2100 will be 400 million fewer than the UN suggests.

Overall, Sanyal paints a very different picture from the UN, with world population peaking around 2050 at 8.7 billion and declining to about 8 billion by the end of the century. That’s about a billion higher than it is now, but well short of the UN’s 11 billion.

Both Sanyal and the UN start with the same data – national censuses from 2010. The difference arises because they make different assumptions about fertility, mortality and migration.


a real variance of interpretations..attenborough the climate warmist alarmist screams that its out of control like a eugenicist would..the UN says its not out of control but its going up and the deutsche bank says it actually drops and that the UN has got it figures wrong..

who is right?

the rise of nigeria looks to be enormous..


~ by seeker401 on October 10, 2013.

3 Responses to “Is population growth out of control?”

  1. ive seen nigerians…they have enormous rises….

  2. 401,

    Britain is going to kill its poor and elderly. Check this link out.

    We do the same thing in my city by banning fire places and then being screwed by electricity prices.



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