Hans Rosling – The facts and ignorance about population growth

Don’t Panic – Hans Rosling Showing the Facts About Population

The world might not be as bad as you might believe!

“Don’t Panic” is a one-hour long documentary produced by Wingspan Productions and broadcasted on BBC on the 7th of November 2013.

‘With the world’s population at 7 billion and still growing we often look at the future with dread. In Don’t Panic – The Truth About Population, world famous Swedish statistical showman Professor Hans Rosling presents a different view…

… We face huge challenges in terms of food, resources and climate change but at the heart of Rosling’s statistical tour-de-force is the message that the world of tomorrow is a much better place than we might imagine.

World population growth has peaked and is in decline.

Population Growth Decline (Image copyright World Bank).

 

Professor Rosling reveals that the global challenge of rapid population growth, the so-called population explosion, has already been overcome. In just 50 years the average number of children born per woman has plummeted from 5 to just 2.5 and is still falling fast. This means that in a few generations’ time, world population growth will level off completely. And in what Rosling calls his ‘Great British Ignorance Survey’ he discovers that people’s perceptions of the world often seem decades out of date.

Highlights from Ignorance survey in the UK

Highlights from the first UK survey re ignorance of global trends. A preliminary summary by Hans Rosling, Gapminder Foundation, 3 Nov, 2013

Gapminder’s mission is to fight devastating ignorance about the world with a fact-based worldview that everyone can understand. We started the Ignorance Project to measure what people know and don´t know about major global trends.

The results indicate that the UK population severely underestimates the progress in education, health and fertility reduction in the world as a whole and in countries like Bangladesh, whereas they severely overestimate how much the richest countries have changed to renewable energy. It is noteworthy that the results from those with university degrees are not better than the average results, if anything they are worse. The results from UK are similar to those obtained by a 2013 survey in Sweden.

The aim of these surveys is to understand how deep and how widespread the public ignorance of major global development trends is in different countries. We are investigating the knowledge about the order of magnitude and speed of change of the most important aspects of the life conditions of the total world population. The first survey covered some major trends in demography, health, education and energy.

  1. In the year 2000 the total number of children (age 0-14) in the world reached 2 billion. How many do UN experts estimate there will be by the year 2100?
  2. What % of adults in the world today are literate, i.e. can read and write?
  3. What is the life expectancy in the world as a whole today?
  4. In the last 30 years the proportion of the World population living in extreme poverty has…
  5. What % of total world energy generated comes from solar and wind power? Is it approximately
  6. What is the life expectancy in Bangladesh today?
  7. How many babies do women have on average in Bangladesh?

 

Conclusions

Question 1: The answers reveal very deep ignorance about population growth. Only 7% know that the total number of children (below age 15) already has stopped increasing. Almost half of the respondents think there will be twice as many children in the world by the end of the century compared to the forecast of the UN experts.

Questions 2 and 3: Answers show that the respondents think the literacy rate and the life expectancy of the world population is around 50% and 60 years (median values), respectively. But these figures correspond to the how the world was more than 30 years ago.

Question 4: The results show that just 10% are aware of that the United Nations’ first Millennium Development Goal, to halve the world poverty rate, has already been met, even before the target year 2015. More than half think the poverty rate has increased. It is important to understand that random guessing would have yielded 33% correct answers. The result is therefore not due to lack of knowledge, rather it must be due to preconceived ideas. The results strongly indicate that the UK public has failed to be informed about the progress towards the first of the UN´s Millennium Development Goals.

Question 5: Two thirds of the respondents severely overestimate the present role of new renewable sources of energy in world energy production. The present proportion is close to 1%.

Questions 6 and 7: The respondents reveal a deep ignorance about the progress of Bangladesh during the last two to three decades. Only about one in ten know that life expectancy in Bangladesh today is 70 years and that women on average have 2.5 babies.

 

For more articles about population growth and immigration click through.

6 thoughts on “Hans Rosling – The facts and ignorance about population growth

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