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Census: World to reach 7 billion in 2012

The world's population will reach 7billion in 2012, even as the global community struggles to satisfy its appetite for natural resources, according to a new government projection.

There are 6.7 billion people in the world today. The U.S. ranks third, with 304 million, behind China and India, according to projections released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

The world's population surpassed 6billion in 1999, meaning it will take only 13 years to add a billion people.

By comparison, the number of people didn't reach 1 billion until 1800, said Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau. It didn't reach 2 billion until 130 years later.

Haub said that medical and nutritional advances in developing countries led to a population explosion following World War II. Cultural changes are slowly catching up, with more women in developing countries going to school and joining the work force.

That is slowing the growth rate, though it is high in many nations.

The global population is growing by about 1.2 percent per year. The Census Bureau projects the growth rate will decline to 0.5 percent by 2050. By then, India will have surpassed China as the most populous country.

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