This diary is the introduction to a series dealing with demographics and globalization. I plan to examine several critical issues that are impacted by fluctuations in human populations.

Human populations have always fluctuated in size, Through out most of human history people's lives have been at the mercy of things like famine and disease. Major forces of climate change have been defining events. The last great ice age cleared people out of most of Europe and Northern Asia. The Sahara desert was once a relatively fertile region. 14th C Europe had a significant population deficit brought about in part by bubonic plague. There were enough forces of nature setting limits on humanity that there was always ample space to expand during times of population increase.

With the arrival of the industrial revolution humans began to acquire the ability to exercise some control over these forces. Food production became more efficient, medical treatments for treating disease were developed and eventually various contraceptive technologies were came on the scene.

World population has been expanding over a long period.

The world population is the total number of living humans on Earth. As of today, it is estimated to number 7.135 billion by the United States Census Bureau (USCB).[1] The USCB estimates that the world population exceeded 7 billion on March 12, 2012.[2] According to a separate estimate by the United Nations Population Fund, it reached this milestone on October 31, 2011.[3][4][5] The median age was 30.4 years in 2012 and is expected to rise to 37.9 years by 2050.

The world population has experienced continuous growth since the end of the Great Famine and the Black Death in 1350, when it stood at around 370 million.[7] The highest rates of growth – global population increases above 1.8% per year – were seen briefly during the 1950s, and for a longer period during the 1960s and 1970s. The growth rate peaked at 2.2% in 1963, then declined to below 1.1% by 2012.[8] Total annual births were highest in the late 1980s at about 138 million, and are now expected to remain essentially constant at their 2011 level of 134 million, while deaths number 56 million per year, and are expected to increase to 80 million per year by 2040.    

The great depression and World War II served to put the breaks on population increase. The post war recovery was accompanied by a population expansion which has been termed the baby boomers. That group of people are now reaching old age and are presenting a series of economic and social issues that must be dealt with. Concurrently there have been major shifts in the fertility rates of many regions of the world.
This map provides an overview of global fertility or birth rates. Clearly there are major differences among regions. Sub-Saharan Africa has the world's highest birth rates and its highest rates of continuing population increase. Most of Europe along with China and Japan reached negative rates of growth. This is creating a global imbalance that contributes directly to the events that show up in the daily headlines. The seemingly unending series of civil wars in Africa are being effected by the pressure of expanding populations on scarce resources. Europe and Japan are facing various problems that result from steadily aging populations.

One of the really interesting stories is the very dramatic shifts that have occurred in Latin America from being a region of generally high birth rates which now reflects an overall picture of being close to replacement level with Brazil and Chile having dropped to European levels. This has occurred in a region that is still officially Catholic and with little in the way of formal government programs for population control.  

These population dynamics play a major role in the complex relationships that get lumped together under the concept of globalization. Imbalances in wealth, military power, natural resources and labor generate complicated dynamics. Population has links to all of these factors. We will start close to home by examining the present situation of demographics in the US.      

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