Environmental scientists for the most part agree that the human population is growing at an unsustainable rate, to the point that even fertility restrictions and a worldwide pandemic couldn't solve the problem, according to new research.
There are currently more than seven billion people on Earth. And despite the United Nation's (UN) belief that humanity would level off, so to speak, a report published just last month shows that the 21st century may get a lot more crowded than previously thought. The global population will continue to grow to a whopping 11 billion people by the time the year 2100 rolls around.
"Global population has risen so fast over the past century that roughly 14 percent of all the human beings that have ever existed are still alive today - that's a sobering statistic," ecologist and professor Corey Bradshaw, from the University of Adelaide. However, "even one-child policies imposed worldwide would still likely result in 5 billion to 10 billion people by 2100," Bradshaw said in the statement.
Even if two billion people died over the course of a five-year period in the mid-21st century, for example, by a war or pandemic the researchers calculated that the world's population would still grow to 8.5 billion by 2100.
"We were surprised that a five-year WWIII scenario mimicking the same proportion of people killed in the First and Second World Wars combined, barely registered a blip on the human population trajectory this century," Brook added.
If current trends continue and demands for products like meat and dairy increase, the global food supply may not meet future demand. We would have to double the amount of crops we grow by 2050.
But increasing agricultural practices poses its own problems. National Geographic says that the practice is one of the biggest contributors to global warming, "emitting more greenhouse gases than all our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined." Methane and nitrous oxide are released from cattle and rice farms and fertilized fields, respectively, while the infamous carbon dioxide gas builds up in the atmosphere as forests are cut down to make room for farm land.
More than a third of recent deforestation can be tied to production of beef, soy, palm oil and timber