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World population size will cross the 8 billion threshold in 2023. Like previous headline figures of 5, 6 and 7 billion, this new ‘milestone’ has arrived relatively quickly (Figure 1). However, the actual rate of global growth has fallen steadily since the late 1980s. When population increased from 4 to 5 billion between 1975 and 1985 this represented a huge 25% jump in the number of people on the planet over a mere 10-year period. In contrast, the rise from 7 to 8 billion between 2011 and 2023 equates with a much smaller 12% increase in total population size over the same length of time (Figure 1).
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