May 29, 2012

World population growth: "we're at peak babies"

In my last blog, I mentioned that wildlife biologists (among others!) should be concerned about world population growth.  The main reason: feeding people is always going to be the highest priority for land use.  If we have more people, land will be used 'harder' or more land will be used for growing food.  Less land for wildlife.

Let's be clear: I like to eat, and I like to know that other people can eat.  But, I do think there should be spots on the globe that do not have to be used for agriculture.  Wild areas.

In the spirit of learning more about population growth predictions, I'm including a video from the TEDx series of talks: in this talk, Hans Rosling gives a powerful demonstration that quickly debunks the myth that certain religions have more babies than others.  And, he presents data to suggest that we are "at peak babies": the number of babies produced per woman is predicted to be level. 

What if we lower birth rates, rather than being satisfied with 'level' birth rates?  He doesn't address that, and I think it would be a good goal.  He does provide the key to how birth rate declines have happened in many countries. 

Give it a view.  I promise it is worth the 13 minutes it takes to watch it--just for the graphics, it's worth it!

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