What is it like to add the population of Germany to your home each year? Well, it's like it is. Since 1999, the world has added 79 million people a year -- roughly the size of Germany.
Today, the world's population stands over 6.8 billion. (In a telling note, one of the first times The Daily Green covered world population as an environmental issue, in January 2008, the world has added 160 million people.)
It's far from a new observation that the world population can grow so big that it will outstrip the planet's natural ability to supply the basic stuff of life: enough clean water to drink, air to breathe and food to eat, and enough space and capacity to process waste. While some worst-case ideas about overpopulation have not come to pass, thanks to technological improvements, others could be just over the horizon, as the unsustainable use of fossil fuels that allowed us to live beyond our means comes to an inevitable end.
It was even suggested recently that the most effective solution to the global warming problem is birth control. (Of course, others have suggested that the most efficient way to stop global warming is to have the richest among us rein in our consumption.)
A new report by the World Watch Institute suggests that global population is growing slightly faster than predicted -- meaning we could hit the staggering total of 9.1 billion people before 2050. Here are some other key facts from the new report:
More than 95% of population growth is occurring in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, regions that account for more than three-quarters of the current population. U.N. demographers estimate that by mid-century, Africa will be adding 21 million people a year to world population and Asia 5 million.
Although the populations of Japan, Germany, Russia, and some Eastern European countries are already declining, U.N. demographers do not indicate a population peak among industrial countries as a group until 2036.
Global spending on contraceptive supplies and services totaled $338 million in 2007, considerably less than half the amount in 1995 despite a 20% increase in the number of people of reproductive age in developing countries.
By 2050, experts believe, India will overtake China as the most populous nation. Africa, after having been decimated by the slave trade and colonialism, will see its Sub-Saharan region grow by as much as 2.6 times, reaching 2 billion people by 2050.
Populations in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Uganda -- some of the world's poorest nations -- will triple.
But these figures only tell the story in one way. Take a look at these cartograms, showing world population in 1900, 2000 and projected for 2050, courtesy of Worldmapper.org. Instead of being bound by geographic sizes, these maps display nations scaled according to their population.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.