Today, the world’s population has reached 8 billion, amid climate discontent and scarcity of resources

The United Nations said the world’s population exceeded 8 billion today, warning that more hardship awaits regions already facing resource scarcity due to Climate change.

The world population will also add another 2.4 billion people by 2080, according to United Nations projections.

“Everyone needs fuel, wood, water and a place to call home,” said Stephanie Feldstein, director of population and sustainability at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Experts believe that resource pressure will be particularly appalling in African countries, where the population is expected to increase. It is also among the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, and most in need of related financing.

In sub-Saharan Africa, where some 738 million people live without an adequate food supply, the population is expected to jump 95% by mid-century, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace. The think tank warned in a report released in October that much of sub-Saharan Africa would not be sustainable by mid-century.

“human success”

Globally, the population of 8 billion represents one billion people added to the planet in just the past 11 years.

Reaching 8 billion people is “a sign of human success,” said John Wilmuth, director of the UN Population Division, but also “a huge risk to our future.”

Middle-income countries, mostly in Asia, accounted for most of this growth, adding about 700 million people since 2011.

India has added about 180 million people and is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country next year.

In contrast, the number of births has been steadily declining in the United States, Europe and Japan. China has also grappled with the legacy of its “one-child” policy, last year urging families to have a second or even a third child.

And while the world’s population is constantly reaching new highs, demographers note that the growth rate has steadily declined to less than 1% annually. This would prevent the world from reaching 9 billion people by 2037.

The United Nations projects that the world’s population will peak at around 10.4 billion people in the 2080s and will remain at this level until the year 2100.

“A big part of this story is that the era of rapid population growth that the world has known for centuries is coming to an end,” Wilmuth said.

Growing anxiety

Most of the 2.4 billion people that will be added before the global population peak will be born in sub-Saharan Africa, marking a shift away from China and India.

“African cities will grow, on average,” said Deborah Black, a demographic researcher at the City University of New York. This will leave millions of urban dwellers exposed to climate threats such as rising sea levels.

The port city of Lagos in Nigeria, for example, is expected to become the largest city in the world by the end of the century.

Experts said that rapid population growth, coupled with climate change, is likely to cause mass migration and conflicts in the coming decades.

Having more people on the planet also puts more pressure on nature, as people compete with wildlife for water, food, and land. But how much they consume is just as important, suggesting that policymakers can make a big difference by forcing a change in consumption patterns.

The carbon emissions of the richest 1% of the Earth’s population, or about 63 million people, were more than double those of the poorest half of humanity between 1990 and 2015, according to a 2020 analysis by the Stockholm Environment Institute and international non-profit organization Oxfam.

Humanity’s impact on the natural world, Wilmoth noted, “has more to do with how we act than with our number.”

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