When you picture the future, do you also think of cities overflowing with people?
Does humanity's population explosion seem like a tap that's irreparably turned open? I mean, has anyone here been to Chandini Chowk?
If yes, you'll understand when we say that it's extremely hard to NOT think that the human species has taken procreation to a whole new level. A level that we WILL inevitably fall from.
However, despite the world population going from 1 billion in 1800 to 7.9 billion in 2022, some experts disagree.
Demographic transition is a theory, but it's a widely accepted one. This transition occurs in phases.
To understand this, let's teleport ourselves to the 1800s.
Things were... then.
Disease and death were rampant due to poor diet, poor sanitation and a lack of medicine. To counter this, people had a LOT of kids. The average woman would have between 4-8 children. However, on average, only 2 would survive into adulthood.
Birth rates were high but so were death rates, thus keeping the population low & stable.
Also, children contributed from an early age by carrying water and firewood and working in the fields.
NOT having a child (thanks to their household contribution) was MORE expensive than having one.
Ngl, but in the 21st century, even thinking about this is weird.
High birth rates + high death rates = Low and stable population.
The industrial revolution.
Living conditions drastically improved.
Food was more widely available, necessary goods were mass-produced, sanitation was better, science flourished, education boomed, and modern medicine finally began to make some strides.
All of this meant that fewer people died.
Earlier, people used to have many children because only a few would survive. Now, this had changed.
As a result, the population exploded in the second phase. Keep in mind that this was due to a fall in death rates & NOT an increase in fertility & subsequent birth rates.
High birth rates + decrease in death rates = population explosion.
As children began making it into adulthood, there was no longer a need to have SO many children.
Access to contraception and advancements in the emancipation of women contributed to a decrease in birth rates.
Also, having children was now an investment & investments cost...money. A clear distinction from phase 1.
As a result, this meant a decrease in birth rates AND low death rates.
Decrease in birth rates + Low death rates = decline in the population explosion.
This is the phase where the population becomes stable again.
Thanks to a low birth rate & a low death rate.
Developed countries like the UK, Netherlands, USA, Germany and so on, have already reached this phase.
The demographic transition occurs at different times around the world. The developed nations are gearing full steam ahead toward phase 4. India for instance, is in the third phase.
Low birth rates + low death rates = low and stable population.
What now? What is phase 5?
Isn't the population still growing?
The answer to that is...yes. Different countries are in different stages of this transition.
However, the UN predicts that the population will reach 11 billion and then start to decline.
Now, there are 2 problems with this prediction.
For one, it's a prediction. Perhaps, climate change and natural disasters will propel us back into phase 1.
Two, with climate change and globalization, will we have the technology and will the Earth have the resources to house 11 BILLION people in the future with an extremely high standard of living?
The answer to this, we do not know.