The UN has put out the word that the population of the world reached 7 billion on 31 October 2011. according to the 2010 Revision of World Population Prospects. It admits the date is symbolic and its calculations could be out by 6 months in either direction.
In the press release, issued on 3 May this year UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Osotimehin said “the population projections underscore the urgent need to provide safe and effective family planning to the 215 million women who lack it. We must invest the resources to enable women and men to have the means to exercise their human right to determine the number and spacing of their children,” he said.
However, according to Safiye Cagar, director of the information and external relations division at UNFPA, the Catholic Church’s ban on the use of contraception is not to blame for the population boom because most Catholics ignore it.
“In Catholic countries like Italy, Spain or Malta people are still using contraceptives like condoms, so the Church ban is not having an impact.
“Besides, the population growth in Catholic countries is limited compared to other parts of world,” said Cagar.
Quoting from a report by the Guttmacher Institute, (a nonprofit sexual health research organization, which some have called the research arm of Planned Parenthood), he said that 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church, according to a recent survey.
The 7 billionth human being is also “symbolic”. There could be several of them, born, it seems, in carefully designated places in the world, where it is considered useful to draw the population’s attention the fact that the Human population never grown with such speed before the 20th century; for example the Philippines.
It is a less well know fact is that it is never again likely to grow with such speed. The global fertility rate is already decreasing; in the future the population of the world is likely to decline
How many is too many?
There is a debate about how many people the earth can sustain. With both more people and longer lifetimes, humanity’s absolute numbers continue to rise, even though the number of children per women has halved since 1950. The absolute growth rate in human population peaked at 2.1 percent between 1965 and 1970, according demographer Joel Cohen of Columbia University’s Earth Institute to Cohen. “We’re now down to 1.1 percent per year,” although that still means roughly 150 babies born every minute.
While the fertility rate is one of the factors putting pressure on the earth’s resources some say the real issue is the often unchecked, unmitigated, uncontrollable, and unbridled consumption. In the time it took the population to double, “the economy grew by 15 times, cars by 16 times and fertilizer-use by sixfold.” A Scientific American article highlights the role of consumerism.
- The world’s richest 500 million people produce half the world’s carbon dioxide emissions—the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change—whereas the poorest three billion emit just seven percent.
- The average American—one of 312.5 million—uses up some 88 kilograms of stuff daily: food, water, plastics, metals and other material goods.
- Americans consume a full 25 percent of the world’s energy despite representing just 5 percent of global population
- The band of industrialized nations combine to waste 222 million metric tons of food per year, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
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- The Scientific American - Growth rate has Peaked
- The Scientific American – How many people can the earth support?
- Image: www.salon.com