Human population growth drives a great deal of expansionist activity. World population is growing at approximately 2% per year, which will lead to a human population at least 50% higher by 2050, and, quite possibly, more. Many current estimates hover around a global human population of 11 billion by that time, more than 80% higher than the population today. As populations grow, they push farther and farther into forested areas – for agricultural land, for fuel, for game, for timber. Under these circumstances, the global demand for food would at least double. In Asia and Africa, food requirements are projected to increase by a factor of five for the former, and 2.3 for the latter. In some countries with high population growth rates, the demand may be seven times as much by 2030 as at present (Daily, et al., 1998). The demand for fabricated goods, many of which are made from tropical raw materials, will also increase as the world population grows and as people become more affluent, both in developed and less-developed countries. Rapidly-growing human populations may be directly responsible for more than three-quarters of tropical forest loss. Nothing is more vital than the necessity to reduce human population growth if rainforests are to survive for even the next fifty years.

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