A quick look at population shifts throughout the world and what they might mean for our survival.

MSNBC recently ran an article noting which US cities will reign supreme, population-style, come 2025.

Shock of all shocks, NYC will remain number 1 (yawn), and Raleigh is set to break records with its fastest pace of growth (minus the banks in Charlotte, I assume).

Detroit is expected to slip out of the top 10, but poor Cleveland is gonna move out of the picture entirely.

Ok, that’s great information about American cities, but what about the cities in the rest of the world?

Right now, Tokyo clocks in at number 1 with a stifling 33,200,000, just about double New York’s population. Sao Paulo, Brazil, Seoul-Incheon, South Korea, and Mexico City, Mexico round out the top 5.

But if you think back over even recent history, there have already been some population shifts in the last century that indicate 2025 could look a bit different than 2009.

20th Century Decline

Paris’ population has declined 27% since 1927. Entire countries have also been hit: in Russia, deaths currently outnumber births, with the most of those dying between the working ages of 29-49. Growth in Germany has been so slow that the UN says the country needs to take in 3 million workers a year for the foreseeable future.

Growth in Germany has been so slow that the UN says the country needs to take in 3 million workers a year.

And despite what is often said about the insane growth of China, its population is expected to stabilize by 2030 thanks to the “one child” policy (which is also said to also be contributing in a negative fashion to a large over-65 population and shrinking work force).

Somewhat surprisingly, the population of sub-Saharan Africa continues to increase rapidly, despite low life expectancy due to disease, war, and famine. According to Voice of America, by 2050, Africa will constitute 20% of the world’s population.

So which cities are expected to be on top in 2025? Tokyo is expected to stay in the number 1 spot, according to a Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs report. But it looks like Mumbai is going to take over the second spot, Dehli the third, with Dhaka, Bangladesh in the fourth spot and then Sao Paulo rounding out the top five.

The news is pretty clear–out with the West, and in with the East (with Africa and South America thrown in for good measure). But you knew that already, didn’t you?

The Bigger Population Picture

Since we are talking about cities and countries handling their business or dying out, why not take a look at the world’s population as a whole?

Worried about the future / Photo: Ali Brohi

We’re used to hearing about how the world is growing at an alarming rate.

One future scenario predicts that although it took “from the beginning of time” to 1950 to reach 2.5 billion peeps, it’ll only take another 41 years from now to almost quadruple that number.

There will be famine, water shortage, huge repercussions for global warming; you know, all the stuff we hear about on the news everyday.

Scary, isn’t it?

I appreciate Steven Mosher’s, from the Population Research Institute, milder take on the subject:

Since even the most frantic of population alarmists now agree that the world’s population in the early nineties was only increasing by some 90 million per year (an increment which has since fallen to 76 million) there was zero chance that the world would “soon be adding a billion people a year,” much less “every month”…listen closely, and you will hear the muffled sound of populations crashing.

PRI’s projections show that underpopulation may be the real evildoer by the 22nd century, as the population will peak in 2040, and then will fall back to current levels by 2082. That population will be quite a bit older than our current one, though.

And already there are complaints that birth rates are too low, with not enough people in the younger generation to take care of the current ailing generation.

Mosher adds: “By 2004, the U.N. Population Division (UNDP) found that 65 countries, including 22 in the less developed world, had fertility rates that were below the level needed to ensure the long-term survival of the population.”

Uh oh. We can only hope Jason Silva will hurry up and figure out how to break that pesky death trap.

What do you think the world’s population, and possible demise, will look like by 2025? Share your thoughts below.