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UN Warns Against Population Growth - 2001-11-08

A U.N. report says that a rapidly growing world population is causing a number of environmental and resource problems.

The U.N. Population Fund says the number of people in the world will grown by 50 percent from 6.1 billion 9.3 billion by the year 2050. The report says populations in the 49 least developed nations will nearly triple.

Population Fund Director Thoraya Obaid says the rapid population growth is causing some serious threats to the environment and the availability of natural resources. "In the last 70 years, world population has tripled but water use has increased sixfold," she said. "In the last century, world population quadrupled but carbon dioxide emissions increased twelvefold. The world's wealth is some $30 trillion, but half the world lives on $2 a day or less."

Although the HIV/AIDS pandemic is killing millions of people, Ms. Onbaid told reporters the disease is not inhibiting population growth even in the most heavily affected nations. "Let me give you the example of Botswana," said Ms. Onbaid. "In Botswana the rate of HIV/AIDS is about 35 percent but population growth is 37 percent. So it has not mitigated it in many ways."

The reports suggests that actions to reduce the rate of population growth in the developing world include the empowerment of women, better access to family planning programs and economic development.