How has the world’s population grown since 1950?

The number of people in the world has tripled in 70 years. In this visual explainer, we examine where the growth has been – and how it will change in the future

The world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion people on 15 November – more than three times larger than it was in 1950. Based on current trends, the UN estimates the population could grow to about 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and 10.4 billion by the end of the century.

The biggest increases in population took place in the early 1960s, but the pace of growth has slowed as fertility levels decreased with the greater availability of contraception and as countries developed their economies. Increased levels of education, especially among girls, and more job opportunities for women played key roles.

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Is China doing enough to combat the climate crisis?

While it appears committed to renewable energy goals, China’s international commitments fall short of what experts say is needed

After decades of fossil fuel-driven economic growth and industrialisation, China is now the world’s biggest carbon emitter, contributing almost a third of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2020.

It is also the most exposed to the impact of the climate crisis, in terms of its population size and number of environmental disasters, according to UN figures. Average temperatures and sea levels have risen faster than global averages, and in just one year since Cop26, China has experienced record-breaking floods and heatwaves, bringing with them severe energy crises.

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‘Fight of our lives’: what happened on the first day of Cop27?

From a bombastic Boris Johnson speech to an impassioned plea from the Barbados PM, here’s how first full day played out

On a jam-packed first full day, we heard from António Guterres, the UN secretary general, who dramatically proclaimed that we are on the “highway to climate hell”. We also heard an enthusiastic and bombastic speech from the former prime minister Boris Johnson – and a rather tepid and uninspiring one from the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

Climate justice and financing for loss and damage was a main theme of the day, and is likely to be so for the fortnight to come, as those from the countries most affected by climate breakdown ask for the help of carbon-spewing richer nations.

Johnson made a dramatic entrance, speaking to the New York Times and seeming to make political hay out of the fact Sunak did not originally plan on coming to Cop. He said we were failing on our commitments made at Glasgow, such as reversing deforestation, and that at the current rate we would not meet climate targets.

Damian Carrington reported on an interesting row over gas. In short, some African countries want to use fossil fuels to power development and bring electricity to the many people who lack it. But many countries oppose this, seeing the “gas bridge” as a false solution, at a time when the climate cannot afford new fossil fuel emissions.

Guterres made typically strong comments. He said: “We are in the fight of our lives. And we are losing. Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

Al Gore said we continue the “culture of death” by continuing to dig up fossil fuels, and cited vast floods in Pakistan, heatwaves and “rain bombs” in China, and a million displaced in Nigeria.

There was brief excitement that King Charles might make an appearance. While looking at the online agenda for the opening ceremony, we spotted that the king was listed as speaking. Could he be making a surprise video appearance, like that by the late queen at Cop26 last year? We asked the palace, and it said he was listed in error. A spokesperson said: “I’m afraid that information is incorrect, he will not be making an appearance or statement in any shape or form, virtual or otherwise.”

Barbados’s prime minister, Mia Mottley, said the global south needed more access to technology in order to tackle the climate crisis and have better growth. She said: “What is needed to make [green technology] is already located and extracted in the global south and sent to the north. And then we have to be at the mercy of those who want to export to us.”

The Pakistani envoy, Nabeel Munir, pushed for climate justice. “Loss and damage is not charity, it’s climate justice,” she said.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, agreed, saying that wealthier countries less affected by climate breakdown should pay up, and vowed that the Ukraine war would not stop French progress on climate targets.

Sunak chose to spend his bilateral discussions with Macron and the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, talking about boats in the Channel, and made an impassioned speech to broadcasters about tackling migration.

He then made a speech criticised as “tepid” about the climate emergency, saying acting was the “right thing to do”.

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Secret British ‘black propaganda’ campaign targeted cold war enemies

Britain stirred up tensions, chaos and violence in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, according to declassified papers

The British government ran a secret “black propaganda” campaign for decades, targeting Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia with leaflets and reports from fake sources aimed at destabilising cold war enemies by encouraging racial tensions, sowing chaos, inciting violence and reinforcing anti-communist ideas, newly declassified documents have revealed.

The effort, run from the mid-1950s through to the late 70s by a unit in London that was part of the Foreign Office, was focused on cold war enemies such as the Soviet Union and China, leftwing liberation groups and leaders that the UK saw as threats to its interests

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Books that explain the world: Guardian writers share their best nonfiction reads of the year

From a Jacobean traveller’s travails in Sindh to the tangled roots of Nigeria, our pick of new nonfiction books that shine a light on Asia, Africa and South America

• Share your top recommendations for books on the developing world in the comments below

You Have Not Yet Been Defeated: Selected Works 2011-2021
By
Alaa Abd El-Fattah

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Pandemic hits mental health of women and young people hardest, survey finds

Survey also finds adults aged 18-24 and women more concerned about personal finances than other groups

Young people and women have taken the hardest psychological and financial hit from the pandemic, a YouGov survey has found – but few people anywhere are considering changing their lives as a result of it.

The annual YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project found that in many of the 27 countries surveyed, young people were consistently more likely than their elders to feel the Covid crisis had made their financial and mental health concerns worse.

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Local Covid vaccines fill gap as UN Covax scheme misses target

India, Egypt and Cuba among first states to develop and make their own vaccines as Covax falls behind

Developing countries are increasingly turning to homegrown Covid vaccinations as the UN-backed Covax programme falls behind.

While western countries roll out booster jabs to their own populations, Covax, which was set up by UN agencies, governments and donors to ensure fair access to Covid-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries, has said it will miss its target to distribute 2bn doses globally by the end of this year.

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Picture of two pandemics: Covid cases fall in rich west as poorer nations suffer

India’s tragedy could be followed by Africa’s, campaigners warn, as wealthy nations fail to extend vaccines – and decide who will live or die

The past seven days has been a picture of two pandemics. Among the world’s richest nations, lockdowns and well-resourced vaccine campaigns, which have monopolised the early global supply of doses, have brought down infections and deaths. Economies have slowly opened. Restrictions have been lifted. Life has crept closer to normal, giving the false impression of an end in sight to the global pandemic.

In reality, as the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom, pointed out, more cases have been reported in the past two weeks than in the entire first six months of the pandemic, with south Asia bearing the brunt.

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Humanists are being persecuted too | Letter
Seventeen humanists from around the world call for a review into the persecution of the non-religious

We are non-religious activists and campaigners who have been victims of blasphemy and apostasy laws around the world, or of vigilante violence inspired by prejudice against humanists. We are aware that the UK has recently concluded a review of persecution of Christians around the globe, and believe that a similar review should now be conducted into persecution of the non-religious.

Many countries, when supporting freedom of religion or belief, already focus their efforts on opposing the persecution of Christians specifically. But none have given any detailed attention to the non-religious. The UK is one of the least religious countries on the planet. The British Social Attitudes survey (Editorial, 16 July) suggests that a majority of British adults belong to no religion. It is one of the best placed to champion opposition to the persecution that the non-religious face.

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