Monday 24 January 2011

Planet Earth: 7 billion people in 2011

The Population Division of the United Nations has stated that the "Day of 7 Billion" will occur in late 2011. The U.S. Census Bureau feels that this won't happen until July 2012 but such are the problems of prognosticating a number so high. Who's right? Whatever the exact date, baby number seven billion will soon be bursting into song.

National Geographic Magazine has produced a video now posted on YouTube which presents without narration some startling facts about the number 7 billion and 7 billion people. It is a must watch.

I would take 200 years just to count to 7 billion out loud.

7 billion steps would take you around the globe 133 times.

In 1800 the world's population was 1 billion. 130 years later in 1930 it was 2 billion, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999, and 7 billion in 2011 with 9 billion predicted by 2045.

YouTube: 7 Billion, National Geographic Magazine
With the worldwide population expected to exceed seven billion in 2011, National Geographic magazine offers a 7-part series examining specific challenges and solutions to the issues we face. The magazine introduces the series with its January cover story "7 Billion," offering a broad overview of demographic trends that got us to today and will impact us all tomorrow. The first in-depth story will appear in the March issue, focusing on humans' impact on the planet's geology. Other stories will follow throughout 2011.

Why the jump in population numbers? In the January 2011 article 7 Billion, the author Robert Kunzig points out:

In India life expectancy went from 38 years in 1952 to 64 today; in China, from 41 to 73. Millions of people in developing countries who would have died in childhood survived to have children themselves.

Medical science has improved, our health is better and we are all living longer. However it is interesting to note that a population growth peaked in 1962 and has been declining ever since. (see U.S. Census Bureau: annual growth rate).

Will baby number 7 billion be Indian?
The most populous country in the world is China with 1.34 billion followed by India with almost 1.2 billion. However the difference in birth rates of these two countries is remarkable. According to the U.N. India's birth rate is 23 that is the number of births per 1,000 persons while China is 11. Let's not forget that China introduced its "one-child policy" in 1978 to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems and this policy has had a huge impact on population growth in the country.

The Times of India in their article "World's baby No. 7 billion could be born in UP" (Jan 24/2011) notes:

The momentous birth is projected to happen towards the October or November. But what's that got to do with India? Well, we just happen to be the country with by far the highest number of babies born every minute at 51. That means the probability of Baby 7 Billion being an Indian is higher than for any other nationality. In fact, Uttar Pradesh alone has about 11 babies born every minute a figure that no nation other than China exceeds and Nigeria matches.

World Population Day
According to Wikipedia:
World Population Day is an annual event, observed on July 11, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The event was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, approximately the date on which the world's population reached five billion people.

The U.S. Census bureau publishes a "population clock" which is apparently continuously updated as per their estimate of both the U.S. and world populations.

Where will planet Earth be on July 11, 2011? Getting up to seven billion!

Final Word
According to the video, every second 5 people are born and 2 people die. With a ratio like that, the scales have tipped to us filling up the planet with more and more people.

In medieval Britain, life expectancy was 30; in the early 20th century it was 45 and now in 2010, the world average is around 67 years. Of course there are currently big regional differences. The United States shows 77 to 80 while in Canada it is over 80. Macau, a special administrative region of China apparently has the world's longest life expectancy of 84.4 years. In contrast to that, there are a few countries in Africa listed as being fewer than 40.

According to the CIA World Factbook with 2010 estimates, Canada comes in at #9 with a life expectancy of 81 years. Monaco is first with almost 90 years followed by the United States (#49, 78 years), China (#92, 75 years), India (#159, 66 years) and Angola (#224, 38 years).

More of us are being born than dying. We are all basically living longer. So, what are we going to do to make it work? In the above video, the idea is put forward that our problem isn't a question of space. If all 7 billion of us were shoulder to shoulder, we would take up no more room than the city of Los Angles. So, we don't need space, we need balance and balance refers to our finite resources and their current inequitable distribution and how we're using those resources.

7 billion people speaking 7,000 languages living in 194 countries. It's going to be an interesting year. It's going to be an interesting series of articles in National Geographic.


National Geographic - January 2011
7 Billion By Robert Kunzig

National Geographic - January 2011
7 Billion, photos by Randy Olsen

Wikipedia: World Population

United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Population Division
Population Newsletter - June 2009
According to the 2008 Revision, the world population, which stood at 6.8 billion in 2009, is projected to reach 7 billion in late 2011 and 9 billion in 2050.

U.S. Census Bureau
Total Midyear Population for the World: 1950-2050


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