One of the things I like about travelling to work by train is that people often leave behind newspapers. On Friday I picked up a copy of the Guardian supplement, G2.
The cover story (unfortunately I can’t find a link) claims that by the end of this year, the world’s 7 billionth person will be born. Statistically it is likely to be a boy born in Uttar Pradesh on 31st October, apparently. Does anyone else find this a bit scary? It’s only 12 years since we hit 6 billion! When we reach 7 billion, the world’s population will have doubled since 1968.
The article goes on to discuss whether the planet can cope with this and surprisingly, the general consensus is yes. The UN has predicted that somewhere around 2050 the population will hit 9 billion and from there it will actually start to fall. Europe is the only continent projected to have fewer people in 2050 than it does now (720 million as against the current total of 739 million).
The point is that we have to be more careful about how we use resources, especially in rich nations because the inequality in consumption is ridiculous. According to the piece, the average American has the same carbon footprint as 250 Ethiopians. We have to utilise the various technologies at our disposal to increase food yields.
An increasing population brings with it many problems other than feeding them. All of these people need to live somewhere, for one thing. They need schools and hospitals and places to work. They need access to plumbing, electricity and transportation.
7 billion. That’s crazy.