Just before my recent trip to India, I read Dan Brown?s latest book, "Inferno". It's fiction, but it resonated in my mind as I felt the overwhelming crush of crowds in Bangalore, my once idyllic hometown. I experienced the same in many of the other cities.
A tremendous change has occurred in the world: Until around 1800, the population grew to about 1 billion; with the industrial revolution, the second billion came in only 130 years (1930); the third billion took less than 30 years (1959); the fourth billion in 15 years (1974); the fifth billion in 13 years (1987).
During the 20th century alone, the world population has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion. There will soon be 7 billion people. By 2050 global population is projected to reach over 10 billion. The highest birth rates are occurring in a handful of nations in Africa and Asia. All of these people need food, water, clean air and space to survive.
The improvement in medical care over the last few centuries has created a situation where human population is becoming a serious problem. This theme is explored in Dan Brown?s book with a riveting story. The book includes figures and graphs about population growth, climate change, fish and wild life depletion, destruction of forests and greenery, reduction of water resources, and more.
The "Inferno" story is about a brilliant, but unhinged scientist who believes that he should "save" humanity by reducing the population. Beyond fiction, reality resonated repeatedly during my India tour.
Our Capitalist society survives on growth. This comes from improved living standards, but also generates more low-income populations. In absolute numbers, world poverty is increasing steadily. Any contrary arguments are simply self-serving and short-sighted.
One quickly realizes that the population growth patterns cannot continue. It's an issue that no one wants to discuss, while wealthy nations are busy with matters related to their own reducing prosperity.
What's your opinion?