Human population, over the last 200 years, has skyrocketed. This elevation is primarily because of worldwide lowering of death rates without a corresponding decrease in birth rates. Death rates have decreased primarily due to increases in food supply and better medicine and sanitation. Since the 1960's, several developments have dramatically reduced infant and child mortality throughout the world: the use of DDT to eliminate mosquito-borne malaria; childhood immunization programs against cholera, diphtheria and other often fatal diseases and antibiotics. During the same period, the "Green Revolution" greatly boosted food output through the cultivation of new disease-resistant rice and other food crops, and the use of fertilizers and more effective farming methods. These changes have contributed to a dramatic increase in human population growth rates.
The Earth's population has reached 6.3 billion as of July 2003 (US Census Bureau). It will increase this decade by another billion, seen as the fastest growing in history (Population Connection 2003). As stated on a website from the University of California Irvine, every second, three people are added to the world; every day a quarter of a million people is added. During the coming decade the increased population of one billion people is the equivalent of adding an extra China to the world's population (Population Connection 2003). A recent joint statement by the US National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Society finds that the population is growing at a rate that will lead to doubling by 2050. The U.N. predicts we"ll stabilize somewhere between 9 and 14 billion people by 2100. .
Globally, many experts are concerned that the Earth's carrying capacity is already overstrained, and worry that the huge impending increases in consumption in countries such as India and China will add enormously to the burden of greenhouse gases which threaten to heat the planet - not to mention all the other demands which increases in both population and consumption are putting on the Earth's natural systems.