Image: National GeographicToday, the United Nations announced that the world’s population will reach an historic 7 billion people on Oct. 31, 2011. World population hit 1 billion people in 1804. It took 123 years to add the next billion, but less than a century to cruise past the next four billion — from 2 billion people in 1927 to 6 billion people in 1999.
The U.N.’s Population Division also projected that the world will reach just over 10 billion by 2100, a number based on many uncertain assumptions about the future. Demographic projections are often mistaken for predictions, but they only show us what would happen if today’s demographic trends follow specific paths. And we all know that change is inevitable. We also know that if millions of women continue to have problems accessing contraception, and lack economic and educational opportunities, these numbers could go up even more.
The U.N.’s projections — presented in the 2010 revision of World Population Prospects — offer only a few scenarios and are based on potential changes in policies, services, and behaviors. They do not account ... Read more