NOVEMBER 15, 2022
It’s not a small world after all.
The global population projects to reach 8 billion people Tuesday, the United Nations says, in a historic milestone for humanity as the organization gives a look into what the future could look like.
The U.N. praised the population growth as mortality levels decline and life expectancy continues to increase. The global life expectancy is 72.8 years as of 2019, an increase of nearly nine years since 1990. Current projections believe the life expectancy could be 77.2 years by 2050.
“This is an occasion to celebrate our diversity, recognize our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.
“At the same time, it is a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for our planet and a moment to reflect on where we still fall short of our commitments to one another,” he continued.
The U.N. projected in its World Population Prospects 2022 report, released in July, the milestone would be reached on Nov. 15.
Immense growth starting to slow
Population has doubled in the past five decades – the global population hit 4 billion in 1974. And it took just a little more than a decade for the planet to add its latest billion in population after it reached 7 billion in 2011.
Lower-middle income and low-income countries contributed the most to the population reaching 8 billion, officials said. Asia and Africa contributed the most to the growth, while Europe’s population will soon decline.
Helping drive the growth in Asia was India, which is set to overtake China as the most populated country in the world at some point in the next year. China is projected to have a population decrease in the next few decades.
However, it may be a little longer for us to reach another billion people on this planet; the U.N. said in 2020, the global population growth rate fell below 1% for the first time since 1950. Currently, fertility rate is at 2.3 births per woman, down from the average five births per woman in 1950. By 2050, it’s expected to slightly fall to 2.1 births per woman.
The global population is projected to reach 9 billion in 2037 and 10 billion in 2058, signaling population growth is slowly declining.
The U.N. estimates the global population will reach 10.4 billion people in the 2080s, but it will stay at that level through the end of the century.
Despite the positive trends in life expectancy hailed in the U.N. report, Guterres said in an opinion piece for USA TODAY billions of people continue to struggle and gaps must be closed to end inequalities, citing climate change, famine and wars in the Middle East and Ukraine.
“We are setting ourselves up for an 8-billion-strong world filled with tensions and mistrust, crisis and conflict,” he said.