How long can population growth continue?

Background:  There a three conflicting perspectives to population growth.

1.  Global population will peak at approximately 9 billion around 2050 (official UN projection according to wikipedia page)., or at most around 11 billion.

2.  Continued population growth is an economic requirement and is the only way to avoid economic disaster.

3.  Even the UN project of 9 Billion is actually too high and further population growth should avoided where at all possible.

Abstract: Due to the population ‘pipeline’, change takes a long time, but any interruption to the current trend to reduced population growth could benefit the richest 5% of the world, but would set up every increasing problems for the future.  To seek to continue population growth at all to benefit only the wealthy is selfish and at the expense of future generations.

Both groups 1 and 3 believe that population growth should not or will not continue for much longer, but it is the approach of group 2 that I wish to discuss.

This group 2 proposes that population growth should continue indefinitely.  I believe this is neither desirable or even ultimately feasible.

Eventually population on earth has to stop, as there is a finite number of atoms on the planet and at some point there is simply not enough to go around.  The argument against this, is that the limit will come so far into the future that it is not our problem, but the problem of a future generation who will have technology such as space colonisation.

I encourage searching on ‘limit to population’ or similar.  The arguments do not need repeating here that it is very difficult to see how the Earth can sustain a population of, lets say, even 15 billion.  And if we were successful at maintaining the population growth the economic proponents desire, we would reach this unsustainable 15 billion by around 2070 and well before we are able to colonise space.  2070 is only 2 or 3 generations from now, so to deliberately seek to grow our population for economic motives is to create a problem for future generations.

Yet, artificially growing our populations is exactly what some western countries wish to do. The problem is that some western countries are taking what steps they can drive population growth against a backdrop of the population growth naturally trending towards zero.  If sufficient countries achieve their goal, then the UN predictions of a peak of 9 billion will most certainly be too low.

Yes advanced economies are seeing population growth naturally decline.  Countries like Japan have zero or below population growth already and are facing problems from an economic system geared for population growth. The Australian government took measures such as a ‘baby bonus’ to economically reward families to have more children.  The wikipedia page on population growth projections specifically nominates the USA as managing to continue population growth despite being one of the most advanced economies in a world where population growth is naturally declining in advanced economies.


Even though there is still growth ‘in the pipeline’, the drivers for population growth have actually ceased in almost every country around the world.  The concern is that government policies may force population growth to restart and build continue until overwhelming problems occur.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s