Today, Earth’s population counts more than 7 billion people. Sometimes, such a great number makes it hard to realize that each and every person is a unique individual, deserving of the same rights and opportunities.
World Population Day is an event held on the 11th of July every year, and its purpose is to bring attention to the issues that the population faces nowadays.
One of the most emphasized factors the UN wants to point out is family planning – using birth control to control the number of children born in a family, as well as the time between each birth.
Often, people who live in impoverished countries tend to reproduce the most. This is partly because of two things: unavailability of birth control and high child mortality. While the first reason is self-explanatory, the second one is sort of a chain of different factors. In fact, when a family lives in such conditions, that they don’t have access to health care for their children, the child mortality rates increase. When the family knows that not all of their children will survive and live to become adults, they tend to give birth to more children.
Most people have a preconceived notion that the Asian countries, especially the developing ones, are uncontrollably increasing their population with poor family planning. Closer to the truth is the fact that these same countries have already started raising awareness and promoting different ways for parents to plan their families and are successfully doing so. More and more families are opting for raising only two children.
Uncontrolled Population Growth
The world’s population grows by 75 million every year. By the year 2050, we’re expected to hit a little below 10 billion. This is a cause of a lot of panic among the current generations, because for them, population growth means an uncontrolled explosion of numbers, overcrowded cities, food shortages and resource depletion.
Up until the Industrial Revolution, the number of people in the world used to grow somewhat evenly. Not only that, but families used to have around 6 children. Not all 6 children would survive, however. Life expectancy was shorter and health care was bad. After the Industrial Revolution, life quality improved quite a lot. So families continued to have the same amount of children, only now most of them survived due to medications, vaccines, less physical labor, etc. This contributed greatly to the rapid growth of population ever since. The number of people literally doubled itself only a century after the Revolution. This was the reason for such intense and unbalanced increase in the population count.
Yet some scientists say there is no need to panic. Why? Because nowadays, the problem doesn’t lie in childbirth rates. Quite the contrary – Europe, for example, is facing decrease in childbirth. The average number of children per family has decreased all the way to 2.5, which is some sort of an ideal balance. So the problem lies in an influx of adults, whose number will continue to grow, while the number of children in the world will remain somewhat constant – 2 billion.
This is why scientists believe that the population count will stabilize after we reach around 10 billion and will continue to grow more evenly, much unlike the rapid growth we’ve seen so far.
More and more people are getting out of extreme poverty and improving their economic situation by working extremely hard. Statistics has found that the richer people get, the more they use machines. Machines improve quality of life immensely – not only do they relieve us from having to do physical labor, but they also free up a lot of time, a precious commodity.
This raises the question of energy consumption: can our remaining resources withstand the upcoming generations? If we want the answer to be yes, then we must start planning immediately. We must turn our backs on fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy. We must reduce our environmental footprint and start to take serious action against climate change.
The truth is that the richest 1 billion people in the world use up half of the fossil fuels on a yearly basis. The poorest 3 billion people, who come from countries that are still developing, are only now starting to use fossil fuels – only fractions compared to the first group. And yet the first – richest group of people would be the first one to stand up and accuse the other of polluting the environment.
It seems that the only way out is to acknowledge that our planet cannot endure our current lifestyle. The sooner we start changing our behavior, the bigger our chances are. While population growth and family planning seem to be under control for the most part, the most concerning issue is our environment and the future we create for generations that follow.