The image shown above comes from a publication from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's report, "Teacher Background Information: Connecting Population Growth and Climate Change."
Exponential population growth.
The current world population is thought to be doubling every 37 years. The human population grew at the slow rate of less than 0.002 percent a year for the first several million years of our existence. Since then, the average annual rate of human population has increased to an all-time high of 2.06 percent in 1970. As the base number of people undergoing growth has increased, it has taken less and less time to add each new billion people. It took 2 million years to add the first billion people; 130 years to add the second billion; 30 years to add the third billion; 15 years to add the fourth billion; and only 12 years to add the fifth billion. We are now approaching the seventh billion, the report notes.
Simplistic arguments from the religious right.
Here in the United States, religious groups are fighting contraception, working to ban abortion, and warning that environmentalism is "The Green Dragon" which is unleashing spiritual deception and un-Christian doctrines about God, creation, humanity, sin and redemption upon the world. The producer of the Green Dragon documentary, The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, warns that Christians are called to stand up to and resist "The Green Dragon." Religious right groups and people such as Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery, Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission's Richard Land, Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright, Home School Legal Defense Association's Michael Farris, National Religious Broadcasters' Frank Wright, WallBuilders' David Barton, and radio talk-show host Janet Parshall all agree in a documentary produced by the Cornwall Alliance.
Consumption and population.
The oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said that "Overconsumption and overpopulation underlie every environmental problem we have today."
Every second, an average of 4.2 people are born and 1.8 people die, meaning that there is a net gain of 2.4 people per second. By 2025 CE, it is estimated that global human population will reach 8 billion. By 2050 CE, there will be 9.5 billion people.
This means that there is an increased demand for resources, such as water. There is not an unlimited supply of fresh water on earth. By 2025 CE, it is estimated that 1 in 3 people will be affected by water shortages. In more than 1 out of every 2 developing countries, the population has grown faster than food supplies. To feed the projected population in 2025, food production will need to be doubled over current levels. Doing so will create a chain reaction of environmental consequences.
To help deal with this, those concerned with overpopulation suggest that developed countries — which consume most of the energy resources — need to lower levels of consumption. Sustainable solutions for increasing demands on food, water, fuel and other basic resources must be found. Universal access to family planning services and contraceptives are also key to sustainability. Women need access to health care, information and birth control.
But others, like those behind the "Demographic Winter," say that populations are not growing fast enough, warning that this will lead to economic collapse. They are referring to developed countries in Europe and ignore the resource issues in undeveloped countries such as those in Africa experiencing population growth. Japan, with the lowest birthrates in the world, is facing a crisis because not enough babies are being born to sustain an aging population.
In 2010, Eric Kaufmann, political scientist and author of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? pointed out that 97% of the world's growing population is in developing countries that are religious. In the developed world, the population is shrinking and people are leaving religion. He speculated that if demographic trends are any guide, the world over the next half century will become much more religious and much more conservative.