World’s population projected to be 7 billion by Halloween

Living on an increasingly crowded planet “will require new ways of thinking and unprecedented global cooperation.”

Living on an increasingly crowded planet “will require new ways of thinking and unprecedented global cooperation.”

Um, that’s a lot of people
The world’s (human) population is expected to hit 7 billion by Oct. 31 of this year, according to the United Nations Population Fund (see www.unfpa.org/public/home/

In honor of that questionable feat, Grist.org’s Lisa Hymas assembled a list of “numbers behind the numbers.”

Did you know, for instance, that it took 50,000 years for the Earth’s population to grow to 1 billion (in 1800), but only 12 years to add the most recent billion (by 2011) and another estimated dozen years to add the next billion?

How about this one: According to the U.N.’s “medium projection,” the world is likely to be home to 9.3 billion people by 2050.

Here’s another: By 2100, there could be as many as 15.8 billion folks on the planet if fertility rates do not go down as projected (this is the U.N.’s “high projection”).

Hymas notes that “227,252 people are added to the planet every day,” which translates to an additional 82,946,980 per year.

Increased population equals increased problems: Sixty percent of key ecosystem services (air and water purification, etc.) have been “degraded or used unsustainably by humans over the last 50 years,” Hymas writes, and the percentage of existing species expected to be pushed to extinction by human-induced climate change by 2050 is 15 percent to 37 percent.

A few more tidbits: With just more than 312 million inhabitants—4.5 percent of the world’s population—the United States is the world’s third most populated country, yet we create 18 percent of the world’s fossil-fuel-burning CO2 emissions and are ranked No. 1 in the world as far as energy consumption is concerned.

(Go to http://tinyurl.com/hymas7bill for the complete list.)

“A world of 7 billion is both a challenge and an opportunity,” Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the UN Population Fund’s executive director, is quoted as saying. “Globally, people are living longer, healthier lives and choosing to have smaller families. But reducing inequities and finding ways to ensure the well-being of people alive today—as well as the generations that follow—will require new ways of thinking and unprecedented global cooperation.”

Overpopulation is “the condition of having a population so dense as to cause environmental deterioration, an impaired quality of life, or a population crash,” according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.

What does the future hold? And what can we do now to ensure the best possible outcome?

Ali Sarsour

Build community
The last in a series of four 9/11-related lectures sponsored by Chico State’s Peace Institute takes place Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in the university’s Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall (PAC 134). Titled “Building Community Post 9/11: How the Aftermath Affects Our Community,” the event will feature a panel discussion, small-group discussions and a large-group brainstorming session. Panelists will be Dr. Tim Roy, physician at the local Veterans’ Clinic (and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel); Ali Sarsour (pictured), former president of the Chico Area Interfaith Council and a Palestinian by birth; local attorney and ACLU Chico Chapter co-founder Leslie Johnson; Chico City Councilman and former Mayor Andy Holcombe; and Brad Montgomery, director of the Torres Community Shelter. Free and open to the public, but tax-deductible donations to the Peace Institute will be accepted.