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Planet Earth may fail to feed 11 bln mouths toward late 21st century

November 06, 2014, 16:25 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, November 6. /TASS/. The United Nations warns that the globe’s population will soar to above 11 billion toward the end of this century from the current 7 billion. Scientists are ringing alarm bells. The birth rates as high as they are, providing decent living conditions for all and feeding so many mouths will be a really daunting task.

“Meat and drinkable water shortages will be the worst problem the human race is bound to encounter. The unique water reservoir - Russia’s Lake Baikal, which is the deepest body of fresh water in the world, should be taken care of. When I hear of SUV races being held on its ice surface in winter time or of plans for building a mammoth-shaped VIP hotel, in a word, when I learn that private businesses are eager to lay hands on it, my heart is bleeding,” the director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Valery Tishkov, told TASS.

The world’s birth rates are grossly off balance. In the advanced countries belonging to the so-called “golden billion” the population has been shrinking for decades running. This trend can be observed in the EU countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea and some others. According to the United Nations, depopulation will be the strongest in 43 countries. Their population in 2050-20100 will reduce by more than 15% This will be seen in Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Cuba, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, and Croatia.

In the meantime, the global population will be growing at the expense of the 49 least developed countries. In 35 of them the population may at least triple by 2100, and most of these countries are in Africa.

“Even today’s 7 billion populating the globe are a heavy strain on the available natural and social resources, let alone the 11.7 billion the UN forecasts toward the end of the century. Arable land, fresh water and energy - all these resources are exhaustible,” the director of the Demography Institute at the Higher School of Economics, Anatoly Vishnevsky told TASS.

“In view of the anthropological effects on the environment humanity should brace for climate warming and soil and water pollution. The economies of the countries where the population growth is the fastest will be experiencing the worst pressures. They are mostly poor countries in Africa and Asia. The industrialized countries will be unable to feed all people and provide access to education and normal living conditions,” Vishnevsky believes.

“The demographic situation on the globe entails global economic, ecological and political risks. Asia’s soaring populations may prove a source of tensions for neighbouring countries, including Russia. Russia’s Asian regions are a home to about 30 million, while the aggregate population of the Asian countries will soon approach five billion,” Vishnevsky said.

“Even if all 140 million residents of Russia were resettled to the Far East, the demographic edge of the Asian countries will still remain more than impressive. So any conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region should be avoided by all means,” Tishkov believes.

“Populations in Africa are growing by leaps and bounds by virtue of tribal customs and traditions. For this reason awareness promotion and birth control programs should be implemented in Africa proactively, the way it has been done in China,” Vishnevsky said.

“Higher death rates are the sole alternative to family planning. As soon as the density of the population grows, certain natural regulators are activated, such as HIV infections or the Ebola virus fever. Conspiracy theories have nothing to do with such outbreaks. They are natural processes in the countries where there are no economic, social or hygienic conditions for maintaining the health of the population,” Vishnevsky said.

“Russia and Europe and the other countries of the “golden billion” should become aware that there will be no chance for them to go on living in isolation at a time of demographic booms in Asia and Africa. Countries of the modern world are communicating vessels. The rich countries with populations of about one billion but very close to depopulation are already experiencing migration pressures from the developing countries, whose population has already reached 6 billion and will grow further. Scientists around the world should develop a strategic vision of the situation and identify a solution of this problem,” Vishnevsky believes.


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