The population "bomb" - as the explosive growth of the world's population is sometimes referred to - is still ticking and is likely to continue to do so well into the next century.
That's the ominous conclusion drawn by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), a Washington-based nonprofit educational organization that recently released its latest studies of demographic and socio-economic data and population estimates for countries and regions of the world.
According to the PRB, the world population is growing by nearly 1 billion people every 11 years.
"About 88 million people are added to the population each year," said Alene H. Gelbard, the PRB's director of international programs.
The population projections are cause for concern, particularly when considered against data showing that it took until the early 1800s for the world's population to reach the first billion.
Most of the population increases occur in the Third World, the PRB's data show.
"Ninety-five percent of the growth we are seeing is taking place in developing countries and regions," Miss Gelbard said.
In contrast to fully developed nations, which can most afford an expansion in numbers, the growth is taking place largely in nations where resource scarcities press relentlessly upon the ability of governments and private institutions to cope with providing the bare necessities.
The bureau's statistics show that by the year 2025, if present patterns continue, the world's 5.8 billion people will be joined by more than another 2 billion. The actual number projected by the bureau is 8.1 billion people, which includes 6.9 billion people in less-developed countries.
That's five times more than the projected population growth of the more-developed countries.
But how fast the population is growing is a matter of contention among demographic agencies.
For example, the U.N. Population Division estimated that about 4.59 billion people live in less-developed regions and are growing at an annual rate of 1.8 percent, whereas in the developed world, there are an estimated 1.18 billion people increasing at only 0.4 percent annually.
Another Washington-based population-research group, the Population Institute, recently concluded that global population growth …