As every year, July 11th is the "UN World Population Day" .
There are regular comments and political speeches, most of which are similar in that they evade the actual problem: After all, alongside environmental degradation and climate change, overpopulation is perhaps the most dangerous threat to humanity.
The excessive consumption of energy and raw materials, which in turn grows with an increasing population, is primarily responsible for environmental destruction and climate catastrophe. Since no one has yet found a way to control this problem, one usually evades and tries to console oneself with optimistic future expectations.
What are the facts?
* The world population is currently around 6.3 billion people and continues to grow.
Growth has slowed in the last few decades, but at a high level. Currently, the annual population increase is estimated at 1.14 % to 1.9 %. If we stay at the lower limit, the world population would increase by 72 million people per year (6 million per month or 200,000 per day); about 95 % of this growth occurs in developing countries.
* All of these people need drinking water, food, clothing, housing, heating, traffic routes, schools, hospitals, workplaces, etc.
* According to UN estimates, the world population could level off between 7 and 11 billion by 2050.
* How big is the earth's carrying capacity? Here the estimates differ widely and fluctuate between a billion and 1,000 billion people (1), so that everyone can choose a value that suits them! A popular mid-range is between 7.7 and 12 billion, and it would be in line with the UN estimate mentioned above.
* However, there are also ecologists who warn against assumptions that are too optimistic, consider today's population to be too high, and z. B. provide the following data, which are probably still quite high:
Standard of living Maximum carrying capacity:
As in the third world 4.5 billion
As in Europe: 2.2 billion
As in the US 1.1 billion (2)
With this controversial estimate, we become aware of an often repressed problem: The earth's carrying capacity depends not least on the material demands of people! It is time to think about how we imagine a fair distribution of the goods to be generated in order to enable all inhabitants of this earth to have a decent existence!
As the population continues to grow, we will also have to question habits that have become dear to us that use up too many resources: Energy consumption in industry and in private households (heating, air conditioning, lighting), individual transport, air travel, avoidable transport, meat food, alcoholic beverages, etc.
In the Grail World we have dealt on various occasions with this world problem, on the solution (or non-solution) of which the future of our planet depends. (Cf. "How many people the earth can take"; "Why we are stumbling into the population trap".; "Get out of the loop", all under "Ecology").
On July 11, 1987, the world population exceeded 5 billion according to UN calculations.
(1) Same as Michael et al., Life Counts, Berliner Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin, 2002.