As a writer working to educate about human overpopulation, it’s easy to get discouraged. Why? While there are success stories, the bad news often seems overwhelming.
Just this month, for instance, reliable new population projections indicate that – contrary to previous projections – world population likely will not stabilize this century. The new analysis, based on 2012 data, points to an 80 percent probability that world population may grow as high as 12.3 billion by 2100. That’s 5 billion more people than current population.
High fertility and a recent slowdown in the pace of fertility decline in Africa account for a large part of the revised estimate. With a current population of 1 billion, Africa is expected to grow by between 3.1 and 5.7 billion people by 2100, which bodes very poorly not only for the people, but also for the rich biodiversity of that continent. Access to contraception in Africa has changed little in the last 20 years, with contraception still unavailable across much of the continent.
As in other parts of the world, religious and cultural beliefs can be significant hurdles in Africa to women’s health and family planning. Earlier this year, for example, a proposal for a family planning program in Senegal was attacked as being “un-Islamic.” Senegal is 94 percent Muslim. At a current population of 13 million, the country is on track to well more than quadruple to 58 million by 2100.
One would think with this exploding world population news, there would have been more stories out today about World Contraception Day, which is a worldwide campaign, now in its eighth year, to improve contraception awareness and the level of informed choices on sexual and reproductive health so that every pregnancy is a wanted one.
So, here’s my acknowledgement of the day and all the individuals and organizations who work on family planning issues. They do extremely important work daily tackling an uphill battle in too many places in the world where millions of people still need family planning services.