Better make room — world population to hit 9.1 billion by 2050

There will be 9.1 billion people on this li’l planet of ours by 2050, according to revised U.N. population figures released yesterday. That’s a 40 percent increase from today’s mere (!) 6.5 billion. While population in developed countries is expected to remain largely stable at 1.2 billion — mainly due to immigration, as their native birth rates are declining — the world’s 50 poorest countries will see their numbers more than double. At the same time, life expectancy in southern Africa has declined from 62 years in 1995 to 48 years in 2000-2005, and is projected to hit a low of 43 before a slow recovery. That means Africans are being born and lost to AIDS at a rate almost incomprehensible to comfortable Westerners. Speaking of which, U.S. population is set to rise from 298 million in 2005 to 394 million in 2050, with immigration the main driver of growth. Meanwhile, India will probably surpass China as the world’s most populous nation in coming decades, due to higher birth rates. “It is going to be a strain on the world,” said Hania Zlotnik, U.N. Population Division director and master of understatement.