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Many Faces, Many Problems

What are the problems and concerns facing the population of the globe?

November 28, 2003

What are the problems and concerns facing the population of the globe?

As the world starts to face increasing population concerns, each country will experience its own set of problems. Some will have too many people — and others will be overwhelmed by health issues. In this Globalist Factsheet — based on the findings presented in Lester Brown's new book “Plan B” — we take a quick world tour to explore population issues.

How have individual incomes changed with population growth?

Between 1950 and 2001, the world's population grew by 146% — while individual incomes grew by 188%.

How much of a problem is population density in some countries?

As of 2003, Bangladesh has a population about half the size of the United States — but crammed into a territory the size of the state of New York.

Which African countries have a similar problem?

As of 2003, Nigeria's population is expected to more than double — from the current 134 million to 258 million by 2050. This will give the country a population close to the current U.S. level — but concentrated in an area slightly larger than the state of Texas.

Where else is rapid population growth a problem?

Ethiopia — a country that controls 85% of the headwaters of the Nile River — is projected to expand from a population of 69 million to 171 million by 2050.

Which African country is the most densely populated?

Back in 1950, Rwanda's population totaled 1.9 million. Before the 1994 genocide, it was nearly 8 million — which made it the most densely populated country in Africa.

Today, this tiny country's population stands at about 7.8 million — concentrated in an area a little larger than the state of Maryland.

In what way does population growth in India put a strain on that country?

As of 2003, a rapidly growing population in India requires that the country’s farmers feed an additional 16 million people each year — a population nearly the size of Australia’s.

What are the costs of smoking?

As of 2003, each pack of cigarettes smoked in the United States costs society $7.18 in terms of illness and absenteeism.

Which other passion kills people?

Each year, automobile accidents kill 1.2 million people worldwide — making car ownership almost as dangerous as smoking, which causes 1.5 million deaths worldwide each year. Air pollution, partly from cars, kills 3 million people per year.

What is one country where this could potentially be a major problem?

As of 2003, China has 13 million cars on the road. If China one day achieves the current ownership rate in Japan of one car for every two people — China would have more than 640 million cars on its roads.

How has the HIV/AIDS pandemic changed the population of sub-Saharan Africa?

As of 2003, the current life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa is 47 years. If the HIV/AIDS pandemic had been avoided, the region's 700 million people would be expecting to live an average of 62 years.

Are those faced with this disease getting the help and treatment they need?

As of 2003, 29 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are HIV-positive — but only 30,000 are being treated with anti-retroviral drugs.

What effect do literacy levels have on a women's decision to have children?

As of 2003, illiterate women in Brazil have on average six children each—while literate women have an average of two.

What are the literacy rates for the world's two largest populations?

As of 2003, 32% of males and 55% of females in India are illiterate. In China, the numbers are significantly better — with
only 8% of males and 24% of females illiterate. However, there remains a wide gender gap in literacy for both countries.