Earth: Population 7 Billion?

Amongst Halloween festivities, yesterday marked the concerning celebration of the world’s population hitting seven billion people. The United Nations chose October 31st to pinpoint the birth of the world’s 7 billionth baby and selected several children around the world to symbolically represent the global population milestone. Of course, it is impossible to identify the true seven billionth baby, however the UN aimed to draw attention to the challenges of the world’s increasing population as well as raise awareness about reproductive health, women’s rights and inequality.

This year, the first country to publicly declare their symbolic baby was the Philippines. Baby Danica May Camacho was delivered just before midnight on Sunday at Manila’s Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. Weighing 2.5kg (5.5lb), she and her family were met by top United Nations officials who presented her with a small cake. The family were also given a scholarship grant for the child’s education and a livelihood package to enable them to open a general store. In 1999, the series of 6 billionth babies were selected, including Bosnian child, Adnan Mevic. The Mevic family is now living in poverty, demonstrating part of the reasoning behind the UN’s choice to select a number of births throughout the day rather than spotlighting one.

UN figures suggest that if current fertility rates continue, the world’s population is set to reach nine billion by 2050 and over ten billion by 2100. However, accuracy of the projection has been questioned and the UN recognises that its data comes with a 2% margin of error. For example, today’s population could even be 56 million higher or lower that the estimated seven billion. Demographers say that there was a century between the world’s population being one billion in 1804 and reaching two billion in 1927. With population growth rapidly picking up speed throughout the 20th century, it has taken less than 13 years passed between the six billion and seven billion mile markers. A report* in the July 2011 issue of Science magazine it shows that some researchers believe that it may have been our inclination for extreme population growth that helped us push aside our predecessors, the Neandertals.

With the current levels of poverty and starvation in the world, the consistent rise in global population causes uncertainty about how the earth can manage even more people. At a press conference held yesterday to mark the day the world hit 7 billion, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated, “In Cannes [G20 meeting later this week], leaders should agree to a concrete action plan that advances the well-being of all nations and people, not just the wealthiest and most powerful.”

The president of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser echoed this opinion saying “today’s milestone is a reminder of how the world’s poorest – the so-called ‘bottom billion’ – are rendered vulnerable with little or no access to basic needs.”

The United Nations campaign ‘7 Billion Actions’ declare the view ‘7 Billion is a challenge, 7 Billion is an opportunity, 7 Billion is a call to action.’ The campaign highlights the positive aspects of the new population milestone and the aspirations to exploit it for its benefits, if any, but who knows what consequences it will have on us and on the earth, and when will the ever increasing human population become too much?


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