The current world population of more than 6.5 billion, doubled during the last 50 years. Based on its present growth rate of 1.2% each year, the world population is projected to double again within a mere 58 years.
Many countries and world regions are experiencing rapid expansions of their population. For example, China's present population of 1.4 billion, despite the governmental policy of permitting only one-child per couple, is still growing at an annual rate of 0.6%. China, recognizing its serious overpopulation problem, has recently passed legislation that strengthens its one-child per couple policy. Yet, because of its young age structure, the Chinese population is projected to continue to increase for another 50 years. India, with nearly 1.1 billion people, and living on approximately one-third the land either of the United States or China, is experiencing a population growth rate of 1.7%. This translates to a doubling time of 41 years. At present, the populations China and India constitute more than one-third of the total world population.
Despite the tragedy of the AIDS epidemics, the populations of most African countries continue to expand. For example, Chad and Ethiopia populations have high rates of increase and are projected to double in 21 and 23 years, respectively.
The United States population also is growing rapidly and currently stands at nearly 300 million, having doubled during the past 60 years. Based on its current growth rate of about 1.1%, it is projected to double again to 600 million in less than 70 years. Note, the US population is growing at a per capita rate that is approximately twice that of China.
Worldwide, a major obstacle to limiting population growth is the relatively young age structure, that ranges from 15 to 40 years and that has a high reproductive rate. Even if all the people in the world adopted a policy of only two children per couple, it would take approximately 70 years before the world population would finally stabilize at approximately 13 billion. This would be twice its current level.
As the world populations continue to expand, all global resources will have to be divided among increasing numbers of people and per capita availability will decline to ever lower levels. As this kind of pressure increases, maintaining personal health, prosperity, a suitable quality of life, and personal freedom will be imperiled. Population models and ecological engineering may help people better understand this critical situation and what, if anything, can be done to help rectify the situation.
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