Nov 212010
 
Total Fertility Rate vs GDP per capita (2009, ...
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Empowering young women through education will help reduce overpopulation in areas that cannot support it and avoid extremism in the children they raise

At six billion plus today, the earth’s human population will reach more than nine billion by 2050, according to estimates. If this many people consume energy at the current rate in the developed world, the planet will need more than double the amount of power it consumes today. But energy is just one issue that humankind will have to tackle to create a sustainable future. The root cause of the looming energy problem—and the key to easing environmental, economic and religious tensions while improving public health—is to address the unending, and unequal, growth of the human population. And the one proven way to reduce fertility rates is to empower young women by educating them.

High fertility rates in areas of the developing world that can least cope put tremendous pressure on freshwater and sanitation needs and fuel economic and religious tensions. In response, these countries ramp up their energy production via the only means available to them based on their resources—means that tend to either pollute the environment or contribute to global warming.

For instance, India, Somalia and Sudan have large positive birth rates. The latter two countries struggle to provide adequate food and water resources, and India increased its energy consumption by almost 50 percent between 1992 and 2001. (In contrast, Japan, France and Russia have negative birth rates, and the U.S. is slightly positive.) Indeed, a United Nations study published in August reported that Asia currently does not have the means to feed the extra 1.5 billion expected to live on that continent by 2050.

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