By Adetokunbo Abiola
For a long time, the global population grows at a geometric progression, with nations such as Nigeria adding millions of people to her numbers every year, making development experts and other stakeholder raise eyebrows at the rate of expansion, since the development would not only affect the nation’s food supply, but also affect such indices such as national security, climate change, and the health sector.
However, new thinking takes place on the issue, with two recent scenarios existing about the earth’s population growth: it could come to a halt by 2050, peaking at eight billion six hundred million people, if the current trends continue, then decline by nearly two billion before the end of the century, to six billion humans, according to a study commissioned by the non-profit, The Club of Rome.
The second scenario comes from the United Nations, suggesting the earth’s population growth would not come to a halt by 2050, instead reaching around 8.5 billion in 2030, then increasing to 9.7 billion by 2050, peaking around 10.4 billion during the 2080s, remaining at the same level till 2100.
From the predictions of The Club of Rome and the United Nations, world population growth would come to a halt at a certain point in time between 2050 and 2080s, remain constant or falls during the same period, with both bodies agreeing that the world population currently at 7.9 billion will show increases in the near future.
The Club of Rome’s predictions about declines after 2050 seem plausible, because developed nations in East Asia see declines to ultra-low fertility rates, with South Korea dropping to 0.92 total fertility rate in 2019, deaths outnumbering birth, while China’s birth rate fell to 6.77 births per 1,000 people, from 7.52 births in 2021, the lowest since the country began to keep records.
A developed nation such as the United States sees declines in its birth rate, with the figure plummeting over the past five decades, with the number of births declining between 2007 and 2013, decreasing again from 2015 to 2019, the number of children born per woman aged 40 to 44 declining to three children to two.
In the United Kingdom, figures indicated a decline in total fertility rate for Wales and England to 1.58 children in 2020, the lowest since records began in 1938, as women slow down the rate of having children until their 30s, allowing their careers to take precedence.
With the developed world showing declines in their total fertility rates, carbon emissions could come 41 percent lower than if population continues to grow, especially if the global population peaks by mid century and then shrinks to 7.1 billion by 2100, but this projection doesn’t take account of the over-consumption going on in this part of the world.
The United Nations’ predictions about expanding population till 2080 also seems plausible, because the growth in Sub-Saharan Africa could double by 2050, with experts putting Nigeria’s population estimates at about 216.7 million through an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent, adding five million people in the population pool each year.
The population of Niger Republic, Nigeria’s northern neighbor, could more than double by 2050, as its population shows signs of surpassing 50 million people by 2041, 100 million by 2068, and the figure hitting around 163.2 million by 2099, especially as the country records one of the highest fertility rates in the world at 6.95 births per woman.
The population of Angola could more than double by 2050, as its growth rate of 3.27 percent adds about one million people to its figures each year, with the present population at 32.87 million people slated to surpass 50 million by the end of 2034, 100 million by the end of 2062, and 185 million by 2099.
With the developments in Sub-Saharan Africa showing increases in their total fertility rates, fears about carbon emissions would continue to escalate, especially as population growth in the course of the 20th century shot the world population to 6.1 billion in over just 100 years, allowing a 12-fold growth in the emissions of CO2, the leading greenhouse gas.
In essence, the Club of Rome and the United Nations say the same thing, population growth would peak at 2050 for the Club of Rome, while for the United Nations, it would peak at 10.4 billion during the 2080s. During the course of the population growth peaking, Sub-Saharan nations such as Nigeria, Niger Republic, Angola and others would experience massive surges in population figures, with global carbon emissions continuing its accelerated growth, if indeed population growth causes most of the carbon emissions.
The Club of Rome and the United Nations say the same thing also on the eventual decline of population, with the Club of Rome predicting such an occurrence by 2050, at a global population of eight billion people, and the United Nations putting the event 30 years later at 10.4 billion in the 2080s. During the course of a slow-down of population growth, carbon emissions could come 41 percent lower than if growth continues, as well as one percent slower population growth accompanied by an increase in income per capital of nearly seven percent while lowering carbon emissions, since over consumption also causes carbon emissions.
The Club of Rome and the United Nations did not say much about over-consumerism, said to be responsible for 60 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, with the richest one percent of the global population emitting more than twice the amount of the poorest 50 percent, and just 100 corporations responsible for 71 percent of global emissions.
Until the Club of Rome and the United Nations face this issue, the gains from a future fall of population may prove difficult to be realized, because population growth alone may not be responsible for climate change and most of the world’s problems, as consumerism in the developed countries may also play a large part in the numerous problems facing mankind today.