What in the world

A growing population's impact on land

• Every year, the world adds the equivalent of a new Israel, Egypt, Jordan, West Bank, and Gaza to its population.

• Nearly all of that growth - 96 percent - occurs in the poorest regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

• By 2050, world population will reach an estimated 9 billion, up from 6 billion today and 1.7 billion in 1900.

• Less than a quarter of the world's land remains completely undeveloped, and most of it in the Arctic or in deserts. With current rates of development, particularly in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, man is converting the remaining forests and grasslands at a rate of 0.5 to 1 percent each year.

• By midcentury, human pressures will seriously affect 50 to 90 percent of the land area in developing countries, primarily by reducing soil productivity and water resources.

Source: US Census Bureau; GLOBIO, affiliated with UNEP.

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