World population: Seven billion people – and counting

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Some time today, says the United Nations with unlikely exactitude, a child will be born who will bring the world population to seven billion. This much-anticipated milestone has occasioned much gloomy forecasting, a feature of demographics ever since the Rev Thomas Malthus first did his calculations and concluded we were doomed.

But, as his later devotees discovered, population growth rates are highly susceptible to changes in wealth and education: if they rise, birth rates fall. Nor are available resources likely to remain constant. They can be used up, but alternatives will be invented, just as the car replaced the horse. Technology does not remain static. Predictions, especially from pressure groups, need to be handled with caution. But here, as population passes a milestone, are the salient facts (and forecasts): Read Moire Here

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