World Population Day

     This Monday, July 11, is World Population Day.  The purpose of this annual observance, established by the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, is to raise awareness of global population issues. 

     This year’s World Population Day will call public attention to the fact that this year the human population will cross the seven billion mark.  Sometime in October, the seven billionth human inhabitant of our planet is expected to enter the world.  Never before have so many humans been alive at the same time. 

     I find the seven billion figure sobering.  It is more than double the world’s population of 1970, the year I started college and began learning about population growth.  At that point, the world’s population was 3.4 billion.  And although population growth has slowed from its 1960s peak of 2% per year, with a global doubling time of just 35 years, the human population is still growing. Today’s annual growth rate of 1.14% may sound negligible, but it means a global population doubling time of 61 years.  Population experts project a population of 13 billion by 2067 if the current rate of increase continues.

     Figures in the billions can be hard to grasp.  But when they’re broken down into smaller increments, they become easier to understand.  For example, every day, there are more than 200,000 additional humans on the planet than there were the day before.  That’s right; the number of births minus the number of deaths mean a net daily growth rate of more than 200,000.  Every year there are 78 million more humans than there were the year before.  Another way to think of that figure is to imagine adding more than 25 very large cities to the planet every year.

     I know that some people believe population growth is not a problem, but to me the difficulties posed by our increasing numbers are obvious.  The growing demand for resources puts greater pressure on our finite planet.  And the Green Revolution is over;  it’s doubtful that we can make more big strides in increasing food production.  And then there’s global warming.  It is changing weather patterns in farming communities all over the world. 

     But it’s not just a matter of feeding all of us humans.  Our growing numbers are stressing ecosystems worldwide.  Many, many species have gone extinct or are in great decline because more houses, more shopping malls, more human activity in general, is destroying wildlife habitat.

     In its effort to increase public awareness and understanding of global population issues, the United Nations has launched a global campaign called ’7 Billion Actions.’   With the motto, “Seven Billion People Counting On Each Other,” the campaign is working to get governments, corporations, schools, non-profits, and individuals to take action to address the seven key challenges that the growing human family faces:  environment, poverty, gender equality, youth, aging, urbanization, and reproductive health.  Despite the seriousness of these issues, campaign organizers are hopeful.  Because our modern technologies enable people to be more connected, and because the world’s young people are using these new technologies in creative new ways, new possibilities exist for education and action, oganizers say.  

     ’7 Billion Actions’ has suggestions for everyone.  As one of the world’s seven billion human inhabitants, you might want to check out www.7billionactions.org to find out what you can do to help address the challenges posed by our growing human population, including the challeng of stabilizing the human population.–April Moore  

One Response to “World Population Day”

  1. Lena Rotenberg Says:

    SO important to call attention to the population issue and to its consequences. Thanks for having the courage to do so!

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