Population Explosion

Population Explosion

Each year, the world's population grows, putting increasing pressure on global natural resources. Today, analysts estimate that there are nearly 6.7 billion individuals, which continues to grow at over 1% per year and is expected to reach over 9 billion before the year 2050. Not only have populations been increasing, but the growing demand for per capita consumption of resources is also increasing as a product of the growing middle class in populous countries such as China and India, which have a combined population exceeding two billion people.

The majority of current population growth is occurring in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where middle class populations are continually rising. As a result of this process, populations grow by nearly 1.1% each year, which has declined somewhat from its highs in the 20th century due to demographic and economic pressures. Not only are there large public health and quality of life implications of this population growth, but it puts extreme pressure on agriculture and environmental quality.

While the so-called "Green Revolution" in agriculture helped improve food outputs to allow for greater per acre agricultural production, much of this development was driven by industrial agriculture which puts pressure on soils and public health and may not be fully sustainable. In order to continue to improve yields in agriculture, scientists are continually developing new generations of pesticides and genetically modified seeds, the long term environmental impacts of which are not fully understood.

As the world grows and begins to develop, population puts increasing pressure on a finite amount of natural resources. For each of the Earth's natural products, from timber to oil to water and minerals, there is growing competition to secure these resources, requiring that private and public officials work to find innovations to improve yields, efficiency and conservation efforts in the coming century.