World Population Estimate Reaches Seven Billion

Will Cameron
The Paw Print

This year, on Oct. 31, while most Americans made last minute costume modifications and bulk purchases of candy, many countries celebrated the birth of the world’s 7 billionth citizen.
While the miracle of birth is traditionally celebrated by all, this particular birthday was cause for consternation among those concerned with the exponential rate of population growth.  Of course no one knows exactly who the lucky baby was, or in fact if there are 7 billion people in the world today, but the estimate by the United Nations should be fairly close.
Current statistics indicate that every second four people are born and two people die.  Actually, slightly more than four, a net gain 2.3 per second and over 70 million people every year.  It was not till 1800 that the population reached one billion (spurred on by the previous century’s industrial revolution), and since then population has increased dramatically.
“The primary concern here is how to feed an ever-growing population with limited resources,” explained Dr. Jared Beeton, Professor of Earth Sciences at Adams State.
Natural resources need time to replenish, and we may be using things up much faster than they can be replaced.  It takes 500 years, for instance, to produce a one-inch layer of topsoil.  If soil erodes faster than that it is worthless for agriculture.
“Water is one of the crucial ones,” said Beeton “So many people don’t have it already, but all these resources are related.”
About 25 percent of the world population does not even have clean drinking water.  According to the U.N. that figure will be 65 percent in 2025, only 14 years from now.  While efforts in the desalinization of ocean water may be helpful, this requires energy, often derived from other resources we may be running out of.
These problems are more pronounced in lesser-developed countries.  Higher birth rates combined with the exploitation of natural resources make these nations more vulnerable to the effects of overpopulation.  While they produce 60 percent of the world’s meat and milk, many of their goods are exported.
More-developed countries tend to have steadier populations, but also use up the majority of resources.  These countries only make up 20 percent of the population, but they consume 80 percent of the world’s meat and milk.
Poverty is the biggest cause of hunger, and in richer countries the number one dietary problem is obesity.  The world food supply seems to be sufficient, but since it is not distributed evenly people suffer.
The U.N. also predicts that there will be 9.3 billion people on earth by 2050, another staggering figure.  The race between overpopulation and overconsumption will leave no winners.  While there may not be an absolute solution for the problems presented by population increase, there are ways to help.
“The key is sustainability, using renewable resources in a way that preserves them for future generations,” explained Beeton. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet