Gallery: World Population to Hit 7 Billion People This Week!

 

This week the world’s population will reach a whopping 7 billion inhabitants, marking a critical time for us to consider the conservation of natural resources to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations. Experts are already releasing their estimates of where the world’s rapidly accelerating population growth will be by the end of the century. One forthcoming United Nations report estimates that the number may reach 15 billion — more than double current levels, and 5 billion more than what was previously predicted. So what does this mean for our planet and its resources?

Of the 2.3 billion people the UN believes will be born by 2050 alone, more than one billion will live in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Indian subcontinent is expected to grow by 630 million people. This will mean even less land and water available for each person, and the poorer people, who tend to depend more on natural resources, will bear the biggest brunt due to costs. The major issue that will come with population growth of this size will be how to feed the new arrivals.

But the future may not be as bleak as it sounds if we face and remedy the resource issues that exist today. As Joel Cohen of the New York Times points out in his op-ed piece, the Earth’s short-term carrying capacity is higher than we think, and our ability to meet the demands of our growing population will wholly depend on how much we’re willing to invest in the future.

Coen writes, “IF we spend our wealth — our material, environmental, human and financial capital — faster than we increase it by savings and investment, we will shift the costs of the prosperity that some enjoy today onto future generations. The mismatch between the short-term incentives that guide our political and economic institutions and even our families, on one hand, and our long-term aspirations, on the other, is severe.”

“We must increase the probability that every child born will be wanted and well cared for and have decent prospects for a good life. We must conserve more, and more wisely use, the energy, water, land, materials and biological diversity with which we are blessed.”

Yes, 15 billion is a lot – but that is if we continue to live beyond our means as we do today. Conserving resources is just as important today as it will be when the world’s population doubles. There is much we can do in our daily lives, but experts are on point in asserting that a shift in values is necessary. Specifically, that prosperity should not be measured as a monetary value, but instead it should encompass our global success by satisfying basic human needs, providing education, contraception, fostering creativity, community and cooperation, and by how well we care for our environment.

Via New York Times and Discovery

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  1. lazyreader October 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

    We’ve heard this story before for decades. News articles warn of population growth. Chronicled mainly in the book “The Population Bomb”. Clueless alarmists like Ted Turner and Paul Ehrlich warn us there are too many people in the world. “There’s lots of problems all over the world caused by too many people.” It’s true that the world population today is nearly seven billion people, but who says that’s too many. We could take the entire world population, move everyone into the state of Texas, and the population density there would still be less than New York City. The media runs heart wrenching stories and pictures of starving masses in Africa and blames that on overpopulation. One writer in Africa who wrote about the nation of Niger said that we must “reduce birth rates drastically, otherwise permanent famine……will be the norm. But Niger’s population density is nine persons per square kilometer (23 people per square mile), minuscule compared to population densities in wealthy countries. The number of people isn’t the problem. Famine is caused by things like civil wars and government corruption that interfere with the distribution of food. Sudan had famine when government militia forces stripped the land of cattle and grain. Sherman’s march across to the sea also caused minute famines across the American South when they burned farms and killed cattle. Most famines throughout history were caused by socio-political-economic problems as opposed to natural depletion. After the Plague wiped out nearly a third of Europe one would think food would be more evenly spread. But changing climate rendered crop yields less, and the aristocracy still fiddled as to changing failing crops to more versatile ones like the potato. The decisions made by this small group of people caused thousands to starve because the ruling class made decisions as to what should be grown. Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it. The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally and that’s how they nearly starved to death. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years; a by-product of corruption as opposed nature when the soil is clearly fertile. In Niger, 2.5 million people are starving because food production is managed by the state. The absence of property rights, price controls, and the cruel socialist experiments that had gone under way in Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho starved millions more. What private property does, as the Pilgrims discovered, is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there’s a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.

    The number of people isn’t the problem. Improved technology now allows people to grow more food on less land, we’ll eliminate mass hunger in the large part by mid century. In truth the UN says the world overproduces food. Still Africa in general produces too little food; much of which can be blamed on part by government corruption and kleptocracy, and lack of technical experience. But Africa was never a bread basket. For 150 years they grew cash crops that they traded for food. As Africa gained independence against colonial rule, the first generations of self government attempted to manage a new wave of food based agriculture; they failed. Combined with ethnic tensions and constant civil wars, food resources dwindled. Secure property rights are the key. When producers know their future products are safe from confiscation, they take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible.

    Meanwhile, world population is not careening out of control. In fact while population has grown the growth rate has been declining for decades. Unlike animals we humans in the industrialized world have fewer children and spend more money and resources on the ones we have. Family size has dropped dramatically since the 1970s, when the average Chinese woman had five to six children. Today, China’s fertility rate is 1.5 children per woman. Most families have just one, but exceptions allow multiple children for ethnic minorities and a second one for rural families whose first baby is a girl. If that fertility rate holds, China’s population will peak at 1.4 billion in 2026 and then start shrinking, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By the end of this century, China’s population would be cut almost in half to 750 million. If there is anything that many nations should worry about is too little people as opposed to too much.

  2. RabbiMax October 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Can we instead of worrying about if the earths resources will feed and house 15 Billion people, can we please plan for a world with 100 Billion people on it? We will need to seriously consider large scale imaginative Geo-engineering, and solution based problem solving.

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