The human population sets a new record

This exercise is a part of Educator Guide: Human Population Hits a Milestone / View Guide

Directions for teachers: Ask students to read the online Science News article “The world population has now reached 8 billion,” which explores trends in human population growth. A version of the article, “Human population hits a milestone,” appears in the December 17, 2022 & December 31, 2022 issue of Science News.

1. How many people were estimated to live on Earth as of November 15, 2022, according to the United Nations?

Eight billion people.

2. How might the global population change over time according to U.N. projections?

The United Nations projections show that the global population will continue to grow, but the rate of growth will slow.

3. When will the global population peak, and what number will it peak at?

The global population is projected to peak at around 10.4 billion people in the 2080s.

4. How is the new peak estimate different from the previous estimate? Why do you think the estimate changed?

The new estimate of 10.4 billion people is about 0.8 billion fewer people than the previous estimate of 11.2 billion people. The estimate probably changed because the rate of population growth has changed since 2017.

5. Does global population growth mean that every country and region will see their populations grow? Explain.

No. Some countries will find that their populations grow while others will experience decreases in population size based on a variety of factors. According to the United Nations, the populations of 61 countries and regions are predicted to decline by 1 percent or more between 2022 and 2050.

6. What does United Nations official Maria-Francesca Spatolisano say about the effects of population growth on the environment? Who does she say is largely responsible for managing those effects?

Population growth puts more stress on the environment and natural resources. Developed countries that consume the most resources are most responsible for offsetting that stress.