The Day Of 7 Billion

It sounds like the title of a B-grade horror movie. The day the world’s population will hit 7 billion will occur this year; on or around Halloween.

I was born in the late 60’s and at that point there were 3 billion on the planet and around 12.2 million in my home country, Australia. The population of the USA was around 202 million.

According to the U.S. Government’s population clock, at the time of writing, the global population is now an estimated 6,953,519,479 and the USA’s, 311,920,155. Australia’s is somewhere around the 22.6 million mark.

Australia is vast, as is the USA and the world of course – but so much of the Earth’s land isn’t suitable for supporting human life beyond a subsistence level. For example, in my own country, only somewhere between 5 – 9% of our land mass is suitable for growing crops – and must we take all of that land?

7 billion is a number that is hard to visualize. Will it double again in another few decades? 
Some say it will, others say factors will come into play that will see it slow; one of those being a trend whereby some developed nations have lower birth rates as a result of better education and “better” lifestyle. Unfortunately, we already know that not everyone can have our lifestyles as the planet simply won’t support it.

Even if population growth does slow, will it be enough? The Earth is having enough problems with “just” 6.9 billion of us.
With all the environmental issues we currently face that we are still grappling with, will the impact of (potentially) 14 billion people just overwhelm whatever action we take now to try and rectify those problems? If we have so much trouble providing for all the people on our planet right now and a history of never being able to do so, how will things be with a global population of 14 billion?
We’re already in the midst of the 6th Great Extinction, an event with one major cause – us. However, we were by no means an endangered species even back in late 60’s and the number of humans has doubled since then.

“Can we stop growing now?”

That is the title of an essay by Robert Engelman, executive director of the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. It’s well worth a read.
As much as I hate to say it, these days when I hear news of friends having a child, it’s incredibly difficult for me to share their joy. I wonder what type of life these children will have as adults and I fear the world they’ll be living in will be something like the one depicted in the 1980’s movie, BladeRunner.
It’s a case of hoping for the best (and taking actions to try and make the best happen), while preparing for the worst I guess.

Overpopulation is the biggest environmental issue we face – it’s at the root of most of our problems – and we really need to start talking about it more.
Child-free: ultimate greening