The global population is expected to grow one-third by the year 2050, to 9.1 billion people. The United Nations projects that kind of growth would require raising overall food production by some 70 percent by 2050.

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

Set the food part aside for a moment. Just how does the world jump one-third in size over 50 years? Some key factors explaining this can be seen on the U.S. Census population clock web page.

According to the Census clock:

  • The U.S. has a birth every eight seconds, a death every 12 seconds and a new migrant resident every 33 seconds.

  • Put together births, deaths and immigration, and the nation’s population gains one person every 16 seconds.

  • The world population hit seven billion people in 2012 and is expected to pass eight billion in 2025. Watching the world population clock, the same metrics of fertility, mortality and migration show the world growing at 148 people every 60 seconds.

  • China remains the most populous country, followed closely (if you can call 110 million fewer people as close) by India. Then comes the U.S. with 321 million. At least five of the top 10 most populous countries are emerging low-wealth nations.

While those numbers may reflect a world bursting at the seams, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) makes some additional points in its 2009 report “How to Feed the World 2050.”

The 2.3 billion-person growth estimates for the upcoming four-decade span is a much slower rate than the one seen in the past four decades, which saw population grow by 3.3 billion.


Now, go back to the food equation. The population growth and the income growth will occur in what the U.N. calls “developing countries.” Production for cereals, livestock and dairy will need to be raised 70 percent overall.

In those developing nations, it probably needs to double. This will require more land expansion and careful resource management.

While the report points out some continents “that have reached or are about to reach the limits of land available, on a global scale there are still sufficient land resources to feed the world population for the seeable future” so long as investments in the resources and agricultural research build momentum in coming years. (See High-Level Expert Forum, 12-13 October 2009, How to the Feed the World 2050.)

To many sociologists and environmentalists, our climbing world population may sound like a death curse ushering in a cataclysmic era of drought and hunger.

But even the U.N., not exactly a conservative think tank, fosters the scientific conclusion that resources are available to intensify production and feed more people. We just need to develop the brain power and heavy lifting to safely do it.

Relish that thought for a moment, and then get back to work – the world’s counting on it.  end mark

David Cooper