Experts Concerned About Skyrocketing Global Population

Dennis Faas's picture

According to a new report, the world's population will reach nine billion in just 39 years. The finding is raising new questions about our ability to handle that kind of growth, particularly in regions where population expansion is expected to rise fastest.

The study comes from Professor David Bloom and can be found in a recent publication from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Right now our global population is just under seven billion people. Bloom predicts that the number will increase to nine billion by 2050, and ten billion by the end of the century. (Source:

Developing Countries Behind Major Population Growth

The biggest leaps in population will come in developing regions.

The continent of Africa is a point of major concern, with Bloom predicting that it could account for as much as 49 per cent of global population growth between now and 2050, reaching a total population of 1.1 billion people. In total, it's expected that 97 per cent of all population growth will occur in developing countries.

The problems with such massive growth are clear: it places a considerable strain on the food and water supply and can also lead to housing and energy shortages.

Aging Population Presents New Challenges

Bloom makes clear that the problem won't be limited to the developing world.

Bloom's report doesn't predict static population growth, meaning that increases won't be even across the global landscape. Instead, industrialized countries like Japan and Germany will probably see comparably slow growth (or even a decline). In these nations (and many others in the West), the crisis may not involve exploding population so much as the troubling problem of dealing with an aging population, where the elderly vastly outnumber the young.

In both cases, the problems will be new and difficult to overcome.

Education Necessary

"Although the issues immediately confronting developing countries are different from those facing the rich countries, in a globalized world, demographic challenges anywhere are demographic challenges everywhere," Bloom said. (Source:

"In the 1960s and 1970s, people expected a population bomb. Now, we have mini-bombs going off in the most fragile parts of the world. Issues of inequality and poverty may spill over from less-developed countries, which will not be good for their neighbors or the rest of the world."

The answer to many of these problems will be expanding education, particularly with regards to contraception. "... [We need to] tackle some tough issues ranging from the unmet need for contraception among hundreds of millions of women and the huge knowledge-action gaps we see in the area of child survival," Bloom said.

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