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September 16, 2007
Chronicle Extra: Overpopulation could be people, planet problem
Chronicle Editor @ Sep 16, 2007

Updated 2:43 p.m. EDT, Wed September 26, 2007

    Overpopulation could be people, planet problem
  1. Story Highlights
  2. India on path to become most populous country
  3. Overpopulation will tax water supplies worldwide
  4. Largest population growths occurring in developing nations

(CNN) -- By the year 2050, China will no longer be the most populous country in the world.

India will see its population grow by 700 million people
by 2050, the U.S. Census bureau estimates.
That distinction will pass to India, where more than 1.8 billion people could be competing for their country's resources, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's International Data Base.

The 2007 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the United Nations Population Division set China's current population at around 1.3 billion people, and India's at around 1.1 billion. If population continues to grow at the estimated rate, such rapid growth in India between now and mid-century could lead to overpopulation and an uncertain future for the environment and the people living there.

And while organizations like the Population Institute and the United Nations Population Fund are working to promote the human rights and environmental consequences of overpopulation, not everyone views the newest population estimates with pessimism.

"Nothing ever continues at its present rate, neither the stock market nor population growth," said Doug Allen, the dean of the school of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an expert in the history of cities and urban design, which he's taught for more than 31 years.

"There is a substantial body of evidence that the world population will flatten out in about 30 years," he said. "Built into that model would be an assumption that more of the world's population will become urban, and as such the population will begin to decline."

Citing historical evidence of falling birthrates in urban populations, Allen looks to Italy as a current example of the phenomenon.

"Italy right now [is] not at a point where it can sustain its current level. And I don't think that's because people in Italy have suddenly become aware of the need to conserve resources. I think it has more to do with decisions that are made by families on the margin not to have as many children."