Well, it happened today.
By the time you read this, the world's human population will have exceeded 7 billion people. Of course, we don't know for sure where that baby was born, but in all liklihood it will have been born in India, the country that is currently producing the most human beings. India's population is growing at the staggering rate of one person every second. China has a larger poulation at the moment, but has a much steadier birth rate,
The seven billion number is quite eye opening, the planet only reached one billion humans in 1804, and it wasn't until 1927 until we hit two billion. Those who are quick at extrapolation can grasp the significance.
I got this little graphic earlier today from the site worldometers.info. You can head on over there and see where we stand right now.
Quite often I get into conversations with people who will argue that folks in poorer nations should just stop having babies and overpopulating this planet. They see this overcrowding in developing nations as a threat because it is overtaxing the world's resources. They worry that the rainforests will be over run by logging and mining, and that we are on the verge of descending into some sort of Malthusian catastrophe. Quite often these same people are very self righteous, and I do get quite a bit of pleasure pointing out that no matter how green they think they are, chances are that their carbon footprint on this planet is still most likely about 35 times as great as someone living in a developing nation.
I also find their stance very hypocritical, and very often, just thinly veiled bigotry. Look at us in North America. We get to sit in the comforts of our heated and air conditioned homes that are in communities that were built a couple of hundred years ago on land that was stripped bare during the most intense phase of human expansion. In just a few short centuries we took a continent away from its indigenous people, cut it down, used its resources to our advantage, and now we sit on top of the heap fretting that other people might do the same thing. Just two generations ago it wasn't uncommon for North Americans to have large families with six or seven children, and now we think we can sit and tut-tut at other people who still do that. Our wealth was built on that, yet we feel we are morally superior to others who are following the same path.
Famine does not occur because the world doesn't have enough resources, it occurs because we lack the will to distribute the resources properly. One of the most vital resources is education. Look at a country like Brazil, a nation that is partly developed yet still has crushing poverty. The wealthier segment of the Brazilian population has a fertility rate that is very similar to Western nations, whereas the poorer segment of the population has a fertility rate that is more in line with the poorest nations on Earth. Education is the key to getting larger numbers of people to move from the poorer demographic into the wealthier one. It makes economic sense allocate our resources in a more thoughtful manner, and to ensure that children all over this planet have an inalienable right to go to school.
I'm afraid that the population on our little pale blue dot in space will increase tremendously before we start to see a plateau, and at times, it may stretch our resources, and we are going to face many stiff challenges. However, we will face these challenges as they come.
In the meantime, we can just welcome the 7th billion little human being into our fold today, and maybe remind ourselves that where ever he or she may be born, in whatever circumstances he or she may be born into, that baby has every bit as much right to be here as you or I do. Oh, and don't forget, you are unique, just like the other 7 billion of us are on this planet.