My father, Richard Zarembka, was born in Poland in 1913 when it was part of Russia. He migrated to the United States in 1921 when he was eight years old. Starting in the 1950s when I knew him, he was very concerned about the magnitude of the population increase in Poland. Although, as far as I can remember, he was only concerned about Poland, he was ahead of others about this concern about population increase. He died in 1999 so let us look at the figures for Poland from 1950 to 2000.

Year

Population

1950

25,008,000

1960

29,776,000

1970

32,642,000

1978

35 061 000

1990

38,183,000

2000

38,253,955

He was absolutely correct. One can also see that the increase leveled off from 1990 to 2000. What has happened since then?

Year

Population

2009

38,130,302

The population had a slight decrease between 2000 and 2009. The United Nations Population Division in July released its 2019 population projections throughout the world. Here is their middle projection for Poland.

Year

Population

2020

37,847,000

2050

33,295,000

2100

23,035,000

Wow. This shows that the Polish population next year will be less than 2009. By 2050 it will be just a little more than it was in 1970. By 2100 it will be less than it was in 1950 when my Dad began his concerned. The Polish fertility rate is now 1.47 children per woman of child bearing age where 2.1 children per woman is needed to keep the population from declining.

In summary, for fifty years the Polish population shot up, then leveled off for the next twenty years, and then will decline in the following eighty years to less than it was in 1950. This is just a illustrative story.

*****

The recent UN Population Division estimates of population increase indicate that the world will increase in population from 7.795 billion people in 2020 to 9.74 billion people in 2050 for an increase of 1.94 billion people. Africa’s increase will be from 1.34 billion people to 2.49 billion people for an increase of 1.15 billion people. This means that in the next thirty years Africa will add 59% of the increase in the world’s population.

In this same period the United States is projected to increase its population from 331 million people to 379 million people for an increase of 48 million Americans. For every American added during this period, 23 Africans will be added. In my posting of July 26, Wake Up, America — We are Frying in Africa, I indicated that each American uses the same amount of electricity as 496 Kenyans, as much oil as 183 Kenyans, and contributes as much CO2 to the atmosphere as 264 Kenyans.

If we use a Kenyan as an average for an African and Americans keep their same consumption per capita, this implies that the increase in American consumption to 2050 will be 22 times the amount of electricity that will needed in Africa, 8 times the amount of oil, and 20 times the amount of CO2. In other words, even though Africa will provide 59% of the population increase to 2050, the additional Americans will use significantly more resources than all of those additional Africans. Even if consumption in Africa doubles in the next three decades, the United States will contribute much more than all of Africa.

*****

If we now focus on the increase in population for the fifty years from 2050 to 2100, a more astounding result is obtained. The UN Population Division estimates that the world population will increase from 9.74 billion people to 10.88 billion people for an increase of 1.14 billion people. Africa’s population will increase from 2.49 billion people to 4.28 billion people for an astonishing increase of 1.79 billion people. In other words the increase in Africa will be more than the increase in the whole world. By 2100 many nations will have population decreases as do 28 countries today. Africans will displace 651 million people from other countries in the world that are declining in population. Is this realistic?

Population estimates are just estimates. Even to 2050 some demographers question the UN Population Division figures as too high. The period from 2050 to 2100 cannot be more than guesses.

My classic case is the estimates for Niger which has the second to highest birth rate in the world. The UN Population Division estimates 24 million Nigeriens in 2020, 66 million in 2050, and 165 million in 2100. Here are the CIA Factbook’s comments on Niger’s geography: “landlocked; one of the hottest countries in the world; northern four-fifths is desert, southern one-fifth is savanna, suitable for livestock and limited agriculture.” Will Niger be able to support seven times more people than it does today? Something will have to give – immigration to those countries losing population, death by starvation, massive annual food imports, or a much, much faster demography transition to a lower birthrate than estimated by the UN Population Division.

Conclusion: Will Africa in the next thirty and then eighty years follow the United Nations Population Division’s estimates? Or will Africa become like Poland with a high rate of population increase and then a leveling off followed by a decline. While I hope to be around in 2050 to give you an update on these projections (I’ll be 107 years old then), I am certain I won’t be around on earth in 2100 so I will have to report to you from heaven.

__________________________________________________

To be added to or removed from this listserve, please send your name and email address to davidzarembka@gmail.com.

______________________________________

David Zarembka

Phone 254 (0)726 590 783
Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com

Email: davidzarembka@gmail.com

__________________________________________________