Sometime in the next five months you will officially be one of 7 billion humans on this planet, up from 6 billion in 1999, finds research published in Science. That's a lot of bodies. The planet is experiencing what researcher David Bloom called an "unprecedented global demographic upheaval." That's a scary thought--too many people, not enough planet! But don't get all Malthusian quite yet: rapid population growth won't necessarily lead to the apocalypse. "The demographic picture is indeed complex, and poses some formidable challenges," Bloom said. "Those challenges are not insurmountable." You hear that? If we understand how population growth will affect our lives and our planet, and act, things might turn out alright.
Attention claustrophobes: there's more than enough room. Standing shoulder to shoulder, the world population could fit in the city of Los Angeles, explains National Geographic in this enlightening video about world demography.
Room really isn't the issue: the real problem is consumption, explains National Geographic in a series on world population reaching 7 billion. We can all physically fit on the planet. More hunger; more thirst; more bodies; more pollution--these will all stress the planet more than population growth. And this stress is already manifesting itself in increased natural disasters, argues the Los Angeles Times editorial board.
Wildfires threaten ever more people because expanding populations are moving nearer and into forests. Floods inundate more homes as populations expand into floodplains. Such extreme events are stoked by climate change, fueled by increasing carbon emissions from an expanding global population
It's not about food. It's about resources. Farming the land doesn't present as much of an issue as exhausting natural resources,which help cultivate the land and deliver food. Innovations in farming won't cut it, explain biologists Mary Ellen Harte and Anne Ehrlich, in the Los Angeles Times.
The news led some population experts to call for improvements in agriculture to feed a world with so many hungry mouths. But that is, at best, a temporary patch. No matter how efficient we become at growing food, the Earth cannot provide for an infinitely increasing population.
Producing enough food is possible, the real challenge is doing so without exhausting resources.Water is finite, thirst is not.