The One Certain Prediction for 2011: World Population Will Reach Seven Billion.
Forget all the punditry – North Korea or the Eurozone, China’s economic rise or the stirrings of the US recovery. The one fundamental is that world population hits the seven billion mark sometime in 2011. An observer from outer space would see this as the most important fact about the condition of this species.
You don’t have global warming without global swarming, and the immediate implication is that curbing the heating of the planet will be hugely more difficult with millions more having to be warmed and cooled and transported. Forget the notion that, oh it will all be fine as long as we tackle the problem of over-consumption. As if people can be persuaded not to have large screen TVs or bigger houses when their incomes rise. Or, if they live in India not to swap a bullock cart for a vehicle. The trajectory in India, as it heads for a population of 1.6 billion, will be the same as in China – a dash for American living standards.
The question is can the earth’s battered natural systems survive the shock this represents.
We are close to the tipping point now, that is, when it comes to the threatened two degree warming. With a likely nine billion now expected by 2045 – kept warm and on the move, for as long as we can now see, mostly by the burning of carbon – welcome to a world without rain forests and little in the way of ice. Should be some picturesque floods and hurricanes.
I guess civilization will survive in some form but that form is likely to be degraded.
And, yes, the population explosion will be concentrated in countries that right now in 2011 cannot properly look after their people.