Today is Earth Day, a time we set aside to ponder the future of the planet and whether we humans are being careful stewards of this relatively tiny orbiting object.
Are we doing enough to protect it, and ourselves? I don’t think so but I pulled a resource book off the shelf to illustrate something I noticed some time back.
The World Almanac and Book of Facts is an invaluable font of information. I found this on page 734 of the 2013 edition:
The world is going to add 2.3 billion more people between now and 2050, according to data collected from a number of credible sources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Programs Center. The world has roughly 7 billion inhabitants now; the number zooms to 9.3 billion in the next 36 years.
Let’s look at an individual country to see just how dramatic this explosion can get.
How about, say, Nigeria? The population of Nigeria, a country in central Africa, is estimated at 170 million people. By 2050, the population there will is expected to explode to 402 million.
Why single out Nigeria? Consider that the country comprises an area of 356,669 square miles, which is about the size of Texas and New Mexico combined. The United States population, which stands at 310 million people today, is expected to climb to 422 million by 2050. The U.S. comprises an area of roughly 3.7 million square miles, the third-largest land mass on the planet.
Nigeria’s population density will expand from 438 people per square mile to more than 1,000 by 2050. The U.S. density is expected to go from 88 to roughly 100 in that time.
Some countries will see population decreases in this period of time, according to the World Almanac. They are largely in the Far East and in Europe.
I mention Nigeria only to ponder out loud: How does a country with such relatively limited living space care for all those people? And what will this explosion of humanity do to the land that supports it?
I’m very afraid.