Catching up on the newspapers after our holidays, I notice an article by Matt Ridley in The Times.* While many people seem to be worried about food shortages due to population growth, he contends that we've “never looked less likely to starve.”
'Population figures may be rising, but the rate of growth has been steadily decelerating, halving from 2% in the late 1960's to 1% today. World population “quadrupled in the 20th century; it will not even double in this”; and it is set to peak at a manageable 9.2 billion in 2075.' Furthermore food 'prices are 30% lower than in 1980… and crop yields are increasing dramatically.' The present world population is approximately 7 billion.
The article does not mention this, however it may be interesting to wonder about the demographic profile of ethnicity (see my previous article) and age. Population increase is not uniform across the globe. I just read an article saying that by 2100 a third of the population will be over 60, but we probably cannot imagine what the experience of being that age will be at that time!
Unless it is a different Matt Ridley, last year he wrote a book called The Rational Optimist. In a thoroughgoing way he argues that so far “the human species, through our unique ability to exchange ideas and thus innovate at the speed of thought, has overcome all the challenges that have ever confronted us, and will do so in future.”
*I can't give you a link to this, because they not charge for access to online content. This is part of an extract printed in The Week on 22nd January 2011.