Speed Reads

that's a lot of people

The world's population could grow to 11 billion by 2100

Using a "probabilistic" statistical method, researchers have determined that the world's population will most likely hit 11 billion by 2100.

Researchers from several universities and the United Nations Population Division have concluded that a previous prediction by the UN — that the population would level off in the second half of the century — is wrong. In fact, by using their new statistical method, there's an 80 percent chance that the actual number of people in 2100 will grow to be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion, from about seven billion today.

India will become the most populous country, peaking in 2070 and then declining to a paltry 1.5 or 1.6 billion by 2100. Most of the growth will occur in Africa, with the population rising from one billion to four billion by 2100. Asia is expected to grow but then top out at five billion in 2050, while North America, South America, Europe, and the Caribbean will have populations under one billion. However, nothing is set in the stone, and the population explosion can be stopped. "These are not predictions," says John Wimouth, head of the UN Population Division. "These are projections of what will happen if current trends continue. There is still an opportunity to intervene."