Reader Joe Deely, in a comment in Alex's post yesterday, Winning The Great Wager, provided a link to a new UN demographic document, World Population Prospects (PDF). As we noted a few days ago, the UN has updated its population and demographic trend data; this document goes into greater detail about fertility, mortality, and life expectancy than the previous piece, but skips discussions of urbanization and migration. Those of you interested in why the peak world population projection has now dropped to 8.9 billion should definitely check it out.
Those of you who like to play with the data, however, should instead turn to the World Population Projections website, which gives access not just to the raw data, but to the various models (the Prospects piece only uses the "medium variant" -- where's the fun in that?).
And those of you who really want to play with population trends should check out World Population to 2300 (PDF). Yes, you read that right. It's a study of how the planet's population might change not just over the next 45 years, but over the next 245 years. It's utterly fascinating -- it's the ultimate "now if things don't change, what could the world look like?" scenario. The graph showing the three population scenarios is excerpted in the extended entry (and shown in miniature above). Of more value are the discussions and essays about thinking in the very long term about slow-changing human trends. Recommended reading for scenarists, demographers, and those who like to think about change.
Who remembers the Club of Rome's publication "The Limits to Growth" published in the early 70s?
All these population figures have a desticly deja-vu all over again feel.
That was "distinctly"
If you want to see how the various projections presented in "Limits to Growth" have faired you can read the 2004 book Limits to Growth: the thirty year update. Its an interesting and informative book.
To learn more about population projections the IIASA World Population Program has more sophisticated population projections. They agree with the general patterns shown in the UN projections, but provide a better sense of the uncertainty around the projections.