The first thing that should come to mind is the methodology that is used to determine a global population count. Given the size of the globe and the smallness of mankind, it is obvious that an accurate count was impossible to get.
It all begins with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The UNFPA’s mission includes population issues as one of its three core focuses:
“Population dynamics, including growth rates, age structure, fertility and mortality, migration and more, influence every aspect of human, social and economic development.”
The UNFPA worked with nine governments to determine population factors and to produce trend analyses and projections rather than actual counts.
The methodology included conducting interviews that gained personal stories from ordinary people who live and work in the nine countries: China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Also, national demographic trends experts and policymakers who must make decisions based on local conditions were interviewed about their lives and work.
The data was put through trends analysis and the final report indicates that the population will reach 7 billion on Monday, 31 October 2011. Current trends also indicate that the world population could be over 9 billion by 2050.
But the other parts of the story are far more important than a mere estimate of the number of humans estimated to be alive today. Here are some of the more critical facts about humans now and the expectations for humans in about 40 years.
There are 803 million in the world who are over age 60. By 2050 that number will rise to 2.4 billion.
1 out of 3 humans live in a city. By 2050, two thirds of humans will live in cities.
43% of humans are under the age of 25. In 40 years, 60% of humans could be younger than 25 years old.
In other words, low or high fertility, aging populations, populations with more youth, and increasing urbanization are getting the most attention. But the ways of migration, importing workers to low fertility countries for example, are also important solutions to meet the needs of each country or region. Attention was paid to the types of urban structures, whether they are central, high cost and job rich areas or less expensive but job sparse suburbs.
Water will be a major issue as will the disparity in rights and opportunities for men and women, and girls and boys. Racial and ethnic equality in terms of the global codependency of nations will be a major issue.
Finally, the obviously widening gaps between the rich and poor in virtually every nation is of serious concern. Most models for stable societies include some imperative for a much more appropriate distribution of wealth than is going on right now.
The report is worth reading and will provide insight into the growing population as well as the challenges that lie ahead for all humans.