There’s a new Clive Owen movie out called Children of Men. It’s based on the book by P.D. James, and although the two have little else in common, they do share the same basic premise: humankind suddenly becomes infertile and is faced with its own slow, inevitable extinction.
According to United Nations forecasts, humans will face a declining birth rate over the next few decades: after all, if fertility levels were to remain unchanged at today’s levels, world population would rise to 244 billion by 2150 and 134 trillion by 2300. Clearly, current levels of high fertility cannot continue indefinitely.
The U.N. projects instead that global population will rise until about 2050, peak, and then decline slightly between 2050 and 2300. Whether Planet Earth will peak at a population of 8, 9 or 11 billion people will depend on “the choices that today’s generation of young people aged 15-24 years make about the size and spacing of their families.”
World Population Distribution, 1 AD
World Population Distribution, 1960
World Population Distribution, 2300
Source: World Mapper.
As these maps show, population distribution has remained relatively consistent over the last two millenia, (accounting for the colonization of the Americas), and shall remain so into the future. According to this U.N. report, the greatest long term population growth is predicted for Africa, in both relative and absolute terms. Other regions’ populations are predicted to stay level or decline.