What will 10 billion people smell like?

The United Nations released last week a new forecast of world population for 2100: 10.1 billion people, that’s 1.1 billion people more than previous estimates. So many human bodies on planet earth beg the question: What will 10.1 billion people smell like?

One word: Horrific.

Current trends point toward growing urban slums as the main source of housing for the majority of people in rapidly growing, still developing countries like Brazil and India. So what do urban slums smell like? “A cloying mix of decomposing refuse, sweat, wood smoke and the sharp ammonia smell of urine,” according to blogger Joanna Castle Miller, who writes about people pushed to the margins of society. By adding another 3 billion people, mainly to urban slums, the stench will only increase unless basic public health and sanitation for all people becomes a global priority.

The new global population numbers were reported at NYTimes.com on May 3 and come from Adrian Rafterty, a professor of sociology and statistics at the University of Washington in Seattle. He refined the process of forecasting future fertility rates to account for fertility in some poor countries not declining as quickly as previously expected and small fertility increases in some wealthier countries, according to the announcement posted at UW Today on May 11.

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