Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies

Bangladesh population at 150.5 mln: UN ?
Posted:Oct 27, 2011
increase Font size decrease Font size

World’s poorest nation Bangladesh present population has been counted by a United Nations agency at 15.5 million on Wednesday, five-days ahead of when the world population is expected to reach 7 billion. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated country’s population, which is a contradiction to Bangladesh census announced in March 2011 the population of Bangladesh stands at 142.319 million. The UNFPA in its annual flagship publication State of World Population 2011 also indicated the number of males and females at 76.2 million and 74.3 million respectively, and pegged the country’s annual population growth rate at 1.3 percent.

Whereas the UN population agency in its 2010 annual report said the current population of Bangladesh was 164.4 million, which is 15 million more than the figure released by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, responsible for national census. The UNFPA had to revise its 2010 population figure after Bangladesh rejected the head count figure. However, planning minister A.K. Khandker said on Wednesday he was ‘happy’ to see the projection which were ‘close to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics’.

The minister, decorated war veteran said the population growth would lead to invasion of agricultural land and forests for construction of new townships if the explosion in human population is not checked immediately.

According to the UN, the world’s population grew to 1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999 and 7 billion in 2011. Experts, however, say the world at 7 billion will be marked by achievements, setbacks and paradoxes as in some of the poorest countries a growing population stands in the way of development, while some of the richest countries are worried about low birth rates and ageing populations.

( NL Aid)


In response to the report, msnbc.com asked seven notable figures to identify some major problems — and potential remedies — confronting a world with 7 billion inhabitants. Here's what they had to say:

Paul R. Ehrlich
American biologist, Bing professor of population studies and professor of biological sciences at Stanford University and author of the 1968 best-seller, "The Population Bomb"

Problem: Food shortage, damage to environment
Seven billion is already facing us with horrendous problems, including almost 1 billion people hungry and contributing greatly to the chances of catastrophic climate disruption.  But the next 2 billion people the demographers expect by 2050 will cause much more environmental damage than did the last 2 billion added to our population — a classic nonlinearity.  That is because human beings are smart, and picked the low-hanging fruit first. Thus each added individual, on average, must now be fed from more marginal land, supplied with water from more distant or more polluted sources, obtain the metals required to make the products he or she consumes from poorer ores, etc. 

Many past human societies have collapsed, with overpopulation playing a significant role.  But today, for the first time, a global civilization is in peril, and nothing significant is being done about it in societies insane enough to believe that growth can be perpetual.

Women in every country should be given equal rights and opportunities with men, and every sexually active human being should be given access to excellent birth control methods, and, in case they fail, backup abortion. Governments should all adopt the slogan "patriotic citizens stop at two children" and adjust tax and other policies to discourage over-reproducers and those unethical elements in society that are pronatalist. 

The current redistribution of wealth from poor to rich must be halted, and overconsumption by the rich must be controlled with programs such as those that transformed consumption patterns in the United States when it entered World War II.  A rapid transition away from the use of fossil fuels should be started immediately, as should rebuilding of human water-handling infrastructure with much more attention to resilience.  Leaders should be taught enough arithmetic to allow them to grasp the consequences of the growth rates recommended by economists — 3.5 percent per year.

Alfred Spector
Vice president of research and special initiatives at Google

Problem: Access to information technology, education
In the developed world technology has transformed our lives, allowing us to access information at any time from an ever growing number of devices. Tasks once performed by many have been reduced to a single click or tap. However, as the world population exceeds 7 billion people, we must ensure that all are armed with the skills to leverage the vast powers of information technology to improve their lives. Furthermore, we must increase the level of education for all residents of our planet for the mutual benefit of our global society. According to the United Nations Development Programme over 70 million children receive no education and most of them are girls.

The good news is that information technology itself is a major part of the solution. With the decreasing costs of smartphones and tablets in the developing world we are seeing a whole new population accessing the Internet. Today, a teacher in India can purchase a $38 Android tablet and bring unprecedented amounts of information into the classroom. Whether through more prevalent network connections like the fiber-optic links connecting Africa, ever more creative software connecting people online, or the vast amounts of Web-based content now accessible to millions, technology is getting into a position to help educate the world.

And learning is increasingly possible online: there are vast amounts of free information on the Web, from Wikipedia to millions of books accessible to all. Or middle- and high school-level YouTube classes like those from the Kahn Academy. And the interest is there. At Stanford’s recent online course about artificial intelligence taught by Googlers Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun nearly 50,000 people turned in the first assignment.  

So in ways that were inconceivable only a few years ago, useful educational materials are spreading across the planet — and the cost of access is declining markedly. However, there is still much work ahead of us and great opportunities to accelerate this access to information.

Alexandra Paul
Actress (best known for her role as Lt. Stephanie Holden in TV series "Baywatch") and environmental and political activist

Problem: Women's rights and gender inequality
I believe we must work to lower the world population to 2 billion people, which was the human population of this planet only 80 years ago.

When the planet is overpopulated, the weakest in society are hurt the most because strained resources go to those with more power.  In many countries, women have very low social status and few rights, but ironically, one of the most efficient ways to stabilize and lower population is to empower women. Today, the biggest barrier to lowering birth rates is gender inequality.  Where girls and women are second-class citizens, where they are taken out of school early, where violence against females is accepted and where women have no say in family planning, birth rates are highest.  When women have no place in society other than to have children and take care of the home, they begin having children at young ages and have larger families.

For every year a girl stays in school she’ll increase her income by at least 10 percent. She’ll get married later. She is more likely to use birth control and will have fewer children, who in turn will be more likely to attend school.  

A woman’s status in a society is deeply embedded in its culture; therefore, it is vital that we support programs that influence attitudes toward women.  It is important not to force change, which doesn’t stick in the long run, but to instead transform ingrained belief systems.  The best way to do that is through entertainment — specifically, the soap opera. Population Media Center uses serialized dramas on radio and television to encourage positive behavior change.

These shows, which often run weekly for several years, allow time for the audience to form bonds with the characters, who are evolving in their thinking and behavior at a gradual, believable pace.  Each program is first and foremost riveting drama, often taking 60 episodes before messaging storyline is subtly introduced.  For example, Radio Tanzania broadcast a serial drama that attracted 58 percent of the 15- to 45-year-olds in the region. Because of the birth control issues the characters in the program tackled during the course of the show, there was a marked increase in the percentage of Tanzanians in the region who discussed family planning with their spouses and who began to use birth control themselves.  Not because they were forced to, but because they wanted to.

As an actress, I appreciate the power of the media.  But I especially love that soap operas are proving to be one of the most effective tools in lowering birth rates around the world, as Americans have long snickered over this form of entertainment.  Now, however, the lowly telenovela is gaining respect.  "All My Children" may have been canceled, but there's worthy work for Susan Lucci over in Bangladesh.

in Bangladesh.  

John Carr
Executive director of justice, peace and human development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Problem: Climate change
Global climate change offers a cruel paradox: The poorest people on earth contribute least to climate change but are likely to suffer its worst consequences since they have the fewest resources to adapt and respond. Climate change with increasing water scarcity, food insecurity, frequency and intensity of natural disasters, migration and conflict over declining resources will exacerbate the challenges felt by people in poverty and a growing world population.

A central moral measure of our response to climate change is how it touches poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad. The U.S. Catholic Bishops encourage Catholics to care for creation and the poor by reducing their carbon footprint, taking the St. Francis Pledge, and advocating for climate policies that bring together care for creation and for “the least of these.”


Robert Engelman
President of the Worldwatch Institute and the author of the 2008 book "More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want"

Problem: Aging
With 7 billion people of all ages in the world this month and a median age of about 30 we're likely to have several billion people older than 65 late in the century. We have no experience with a vast population of older people like this one will be, and by that time climate change will have advanced significantly — and possibly catastrophically — and fossil fuels are likely to be far more expensive than they are today. The challenge of keeping these people alive and healthy will be vast.

What we should NOT do is try vainly to keep the ratio of young to old constant by attempting to convince women to have more children [than] they want to have. That will just postpone the day of reckoning and make the problem worse by continually enlarging the population of all ages. Better to prepare for this likely future with a focus on preventive health, finding better ways to take advantage of the productive and other assets of older populations, and moving toward simpler and less energy- and resource-intensive lifestyles than today's.

Patrick Tucker
Deputy editor of  The Futurist, a magazine about social and technological trends, and director of communications for the World Future Society

Problem: Energy
Experts predict that energy demand will double by 2050 and that's a very conservative estimate. As we've reported in THE FUTURIST, petroleum alternatives now comprise less than 20 percent of global energy use and are growing at just 30 percent per year.  By 2020, only 30 percent of global energy is likely to come from alternative energy sources.

As a replacement for oil, halophyte or salt-water alga is abundant, cheap, and has the potential to reduce global carbon-dioxide levels tremendously. Halophyte algae do not compete with food stocks for freshwater (unlike corn). At present, algae need too much nitrogen to be practical as a replacement for oil, but a genetically engineered species of salt-water algae, capable of surviving and growing on less nitrogen than conventional algae, could provide both abundant energy and food.

As covered previously in THE FUTURIST magazine, when the cost of pumping ocean water into so-called "wasteland" regions such as the Sahara is factored in, the cost of halophytic algae biofuel is less than the cost of petroleum trading at $70 per barrel or higher. Desert areas receive a lot of sunlight. That means that halophyte algae farmers could use solar-powered pumps to move water up from sea level. Many of today's water-stressed regions in Libya, Chad, Sudan, western Australia, the Middle East, eastern Africa, the American southwest, and west Texas can become productive real estate.

NASA scientist Dennis Bushnell, (also writing for THE FUTURIST magazine) has pointed out that genetically-engineered halophytic algae could lessen the world's food and water shortages as well. Some 68 percent of the freshwater that is now tied up in agriculture could instead go to growing populations. Even better, algae require only a fraction of the land area of many other crops and can provide an excellent source of protein.

Aklog Birara
Former World Bank economist and author of "Ethiopia: The Great Land Giveaway"

Problem: Water
I believe that rapid population growth in many poorer countries in South Asia, almost all of Africa and Central America is a time bomb. Just take Ethiopia, one of the most emergency food aid countries in the world. Its population today is 90 million and is projected to grow to 278 million by 2050. One least-understood problem about such insane growth is the potential for regional wars to control water resources, for example, war between Egypt and Ethiopia. This will lead to intracountry and regional instability that will in turn reinforce extremist forces and perpetuate poverty and lack of security. Poor and repressive governance in the region and in others aggravates both insecurity and poverty.

The most important solution that will avert a disaster is for the world community [to] channel most of its aid and intellectual resources in support of smallholder farming revolutions. Poor people will be owners of their own destiny; they will reduce the propensity to have more children as security and will reduce size. Rural girls and women will be more empowered and will choose their family size.

I also like to suggest that the world can no longer afford to follow the same economic and social model of insatiable demand and consumption and concentration of consumption and wealth in a few hands — a phenomenon that is now spreading in developing countries. I cannot imagine that the rest of the world would tolerate continuation of 20 percent of humanity consuming 80 percent of the world's goods and services, while one-fifth of the poorest consume only 1.3 percent. Is this not what triggered the Arab Spring and is likely to trigger Springs in the rest of, at least the poorer and most repressed countries?

Vijay Mahajan
Indian social entrepreneur, former dean of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, professor at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of "The 86% Solution"

Problem: Consumer innovation
My perspective has not changed much since the publication of my last two books ("The 86% Solution" and "Africa Rising" and the new one that I will finish in the next two weeks, "The Arab World Unbound"). I continue to believe that consumers are going to be in the 86% of the world — where the GDP per capita is less than $10,000. Since 1948, other than Japan, very few countries have managed to be a part of the 14% World (GDP per capita more than $10,000). Some examples include Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Singapore, Taiwan, Israel, South Korea, Slovenia and other Eastern European countries. Brazil and Russia just hit that mark but there are no guarantees that they will continue to be part of the 14%. In fact, since 1948, other than Japan, less than 200-300 million people have managed to be part of 14% World. I do not think this situation is going to change in my lifetime including for China and India — though certain parts may look like 14% there).

Rather than looking at the 86% World as Charity (like Africa with more than 1 billion consumers), entrepreneurs and companies need to focus on 86% solutions — be that toilets, housing, diseases, education, women hygiene products, transportation, energy, infrastructure, banking, media, etc. I wish, like COMDEX, where high-tech industry used to showcase its state-of-art products, there would an annual global exhibition where entrepreneurs and companies  from all over the world (both 14% and 86%) showcase their leapfrog 86% Solutions (such exhibitions can be done in the individual countries also). This will accelerate the diffusion of ideas and may even provide an opportunity to investors to bring to the market products and services to meet the aspirations of 7 billion consumers. I believe that many of the 86% solutions will also be good for the 14% world. This will also help us in the U.S. to move away from what I call the "2,400-square-feet mindset" — the average size of the house in the U.S. is 2,400 square feet so our innovation and marketing processes are focused on [a] 2,400-square-foot house with about 1.8 to two persons, on the average, living  in the houses — throw in some pets like a dog or cat. This can also make U.S. companies more competitive and give access to the 86% markets.


increase Font size decrease Font size

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
spotlight image Thailand will be the coordinating country for India within ASEAN from July. In an exclusive interview with INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS, the fortnightly journal of the Society for Policy Studies (SPS),  Thailand’s Ambassador to India, Chutintorn Gongsakdi, gave a comprehensive view of bilateral relations and
The struggle for autonomy has been going on within the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) from their inception, writes P.D. Rai
As India and the 10-nation ASEAN bloc culminate the commemoration of 25 years of their dialogue partnership with a summit in New Delhi January 25 that all the leaders will attend, India is laying out the crimson carpet to ensure that the first ever Republic Day celebrations at which 10 ASEAN leaders will be Chief Guests, jointly, is a
Afghanistan's leaders have asked the Security Council to mobilise international pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists, United States Permanent Representative said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters here after the Council's weekend visit to Afghanistan and meetings with the nation's leaders, Haley said, &l
As the Myanmar government’s violent policy towards its Rohingya Muslims drew increasing international condemnation in 2016, the country’s sometime icon of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, declined to speak out for the persecuted minority.
“We have a very solid commitment to climate action,” he said. “We cannot be defeated by climate change and we are not yet winning this battle” and the biggest victims of climate change are the developing countries that are members of the Group of 77 (G77).
In a bid to promote trilateral innovation and business opportunities between the US, India, and Israel, Israel-India Technology Group has launched a trilateral fund of $50 million. "We ar...

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has for the first time claimed responsibility for the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in a new book in written by Taliban leader Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali.


Title: Salafi-Jihadism -The History of an Idea; Author: Shiraz Maher; Publisher: Penguin Random House UK: Pages: 292; Price: Rs 499


A Review of Anatomy of Failure by Harlan K. Ullman (Naval Institute Press, 242 pages)


Title: The Beckoning Isle; Author: Abhay Narayan Sapru; Publisher: Wisdom Tree; Pages: 157; Price: Rs 245


Title: India Now And In Transition; Editor: Atul Thakur ; Publisher: Niyogi Books: Pages: 448; Price: Rs 599