Since its peak at just over 8 billion in 2050, world population has been in decline; but the rate has showed signs of dropping even faster in the last century. Average fertility rates had declined from 4.95 children per woman in 1950 to 2.47 in 2000, and these have now dropped to below 1.8 – not sufficient by a long way to keep the global population stable.
A century of high economic growth and personal wealth in the East has been noted as the key factor behind these plummeting birth rates. Devastating local terrorist wars that have been allowed to rage unchecked in many ‘fringe’ states have surely also contributed to dropping population numbers. A marginalized USA puts the blame firmly on world leader China’s “unwillingness to play the role of the world’s policeman.”
Although medical science and popular personal health care have made it possible to live way beyond 120, and this has been embraced by some, the popularity of ‘cool euthanasia’ has made the effective life expectancy less than 80 years on average world-wide.
The combination of dropping birth rates and lower-than-expected life spans has resulted in the real-time World Population Census dropping through the 4 billion baseline last week. Global population is now just 50% of the 2050 peak, and there are no signs that this decline is slowing.
The academic fraternity is clutching at straws to come up with credible future scenarios that include the current ‘three-worlds’ reality.
One world ever more prosperous, with wealth held in the hands of a shrinking minority who “want to live forever”; a second world where the majority live contented lives but choose to end them early through the effects of “boredom”, and a fragmented third world, in the region we used to call Africa, ravaged by extreme terrorist conflicts and ‘fenced off’ from the other two worlds by impenetrable borders and security systems.
It is only in the third world that birth rates are still at 1950s levels but casualties are so high that even here the net population is believed to be decreasing rapidly.