10/21/2010, 00.00
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Under, not over-population real threat to world

The world's population will probably begin to decline around 2070. Towards the middle of the century the number of children under five will drop by 49 million, while people over sixty will increase to one billion two hundred million.

New York (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Phillip Longman, one of the leading experts in world demographics, has launched a warning from the pages of "Foreign Policy" that directly opposes the allegation made by well known environmentalists, and the claims of international agencies. "Not so long ago, we were warned that rising global population would inevitably bring world famine,” writes Phillip Longman in the November 2010 issue. “Because of the continuing fall in birth rates, humans will face the very real prospect that our numbers will fall as fast-- if not faster-- than the rate at which they once grew".

It's true that the world's population overall will increase by roughly one-third over the next 40 years, from 6.9 to 9.1 billion, according to the U.N. Population Division. "But this will be a very different kind of population growth than ever before -- driven not by birth rates, which have plummeted around the world, but primarily by an increase in the number of elderly people. Indeed, the global population of children under 5 is expected to fall by 49 million as of midcentury, while the number of people over 60 will grow one billion two hundred million".

Russia's population is already 7 million below what it was in 1991. As for Japan, one expert has calculated that the very last Japanese baby will be born in the year 2959, assuming the country's low fertility rate of 1.25 children per woman continues unchanged. Longman points out, adding: “Young Austrian women now tell pollsters their ideal family size is less than two children, enough to replace themselves but not their partners. Worldwide, there is a 50 percent chance that the population will be falling by 2070, according to a recent study published in Nature. By 2150, according to one U.N. projection, the global population could be half what it is today”.

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