It seems like only yesterday that the planet’s population hit 6 billion, but in fact it was 12 years ago in 1999. This year, the planet will hit the next big milestone – the UN Population Division just announced that the world’s human population will hit 7 billion on Halloween 2011. Unfortunately, 7 Billion Day means that as we continue to dominate the planet, we are stretching natural resources, fresh water and food supplies to their limit while increasing our environmental impact exponentially.
The increase of a billion people in 12 years is worrying, especially since the global population only reached one billion in the early 19th century. In the following 150 years the earth’s population rose by 1.5 billion people, and in just the past 60 years the population has exploded with an increase of 4.5 billion people.
This is not a good thing, as we continue to consume more water, food and fuel then we can create. That’s not even considering the increase in carbon and nitrogen we are responsible for and the natural species we have made extinct through our presence.
All in all this means that in the next 20 years, our population growth is predicted to see a ‘perfect storm’ as the population rises to 8 billion people and our demand for food increases by 50 percent, water by 30 percent and energy by 50 percent. It’s enough to make you start building a survival shelter in your garden right now.
So what can we do? Adopt a one-child policy like China? Grow more food? Switch to renewable sources of energy? Well, yes to the last two. As each generation is born, we are going to have to adapt our diets, our energy sources and how we live if we are to survive a global humanitarian disaster. After all it is not our numbers that are the problem ( 7 billion people could fit into Los Angeles apparently) — it is the resources we currently crave. Our consumption grossly outweighs our needs and, unless we address that the world is not going to change.
According to UN scientists, our impact is creating an epoch called the Anthropocene. This is: “a break with the geologic past marked by humanity’s long-term alteration of the natural world and its biota.” In short, we are inadvertently bringing on the sixth mass extinction because our desires are too great, our technologies have had too great an impact on the environment, and our use of the land is unsustainable.
Via The Guardian