World ‘population bomb’ may never go off as first feared, say scientists

The world population bomb may never go off  (PA Media)
The world population bomb may never go off (PA Media)

The feared “world population bomb” may never explode, a new study has declared.

The long-worried-about population bomb has predicted that human numbers will not get past unsustainable levels any time soon, if ever, and instead human numbers will increase, before “declining rapidly”.

The study, which was commissioned by the Club of Rome, states that, based on current predictions, the world population will reach a high of 8.8 billion before the middle of this century, and then will decline rapidly — meaning the world will never become overrun.

It states that, under the prediction, the world will be able to relax as pressure on nature and the climate should start to ease, along with associated social and political tensions.

The decline will come as a result of falling birth rates around the world, it has been claimed, but authors of the study have warned that still more needs to be done by humankind to look after and save the environment as a falling birth rate alone will not solve the current problems.

One of the authors of the report, Ben Callegari, said the findings were cause for optimism, but there was a catch: “This gives us evidence to believe the population bomb won’t go off, but we still face significant challenges from an environmental perspective. We need a lot of effort to address the current development paradigm of overconsumption and overproduction, which are bigger problems than population.”

Last year, the UN estimated the world population would hit 9.8 billion by the middle of the century and continue to rise for several decades afterwards, something which was labelled “unsustainable” for the future of planet Earth.

But the new projection, released today, was carried out by the Earth4All collective of leading environmental science and economic institutions, including the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchStockholm Resilience Centre, and the BI Norwegian Business School.

To come to the conclusion, scientists looked at social and economic factors that have a proven impact on birthrate, such as raising education levels, particularly for women, and improving income.