7 billion and counting

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According to the United Nations, the world’s population reached the seven billion mark on October 31.

No one actually knows where and when the seven billionth person was born, but several countries such as India and the Philippines are claiming the dubious honour.

So, what does having seven billion people on the planet mean? Does it bode well for the future or is an omen of things to come?

It probably depends on whom you talk to, but there are a number of major problems the large numbers of people will have to seriously face in the future.

One of the key problems of the future that will become even more prevalent than it is toady is providing everyone with an adequate food supply. With our topsoils eroding and our traditional fish stocks vanishing, feeding the world’s population will be a major challenge in the future.

Nutritious food is in short supply in many parts of the world today with some estimates saying that as many as 925 million people are hungry right now. We will have to increase the world’s food production by 70 percent to meet the demands of the population predicted by 2050. This is a tall order given the previous mentioned points. Climate change could be a great barrier to meeting future food demands as rising temperatures and droughts dry out farmlands which are in-turn hit by raging floods and storms.

Another key issue for the future will be the availability of fresh water supplies. That’s right, the supply of fresh water will be a major problem in the future. Some people even predict that wars may be fought over fresh water supplies as they are fought over oil today.

You may not realize it but only two to three percent of the water on the planet is fresh water and two-thirds of that is ice. Providing adequate fresh water is definitely going to be a major challenge in the future.

Climate change is going to be more of an issue in the future. One of the sad points about this concern is that the poorest countries in the world, which contribute the least to climate change, will probably suffer the most from it as they have the least resources to adapt and respond to the coming changes.

Another key issue of the future will be an access to information technology, which basically means an access to an education. This will be especially true in developing countries and will be especially true for young girls and women in these countries.

And herein could be the solution to many of the problems in the future.

In the Western or First World countries we have lowered our birth rates because women had the right to an education. Our low birth rate, which is tied in with the fact that women are delaying marriage until their late 20s or 30s, wasn’t mandated by law. It just evolved as women, with an education, wanted to be members of the work force.

The same thing can, and must happen in undeveloped, developing and Third World countries. You simply give young girls the means to an education and the world’s population problem can be reduced greatly by the end of this century.

These young girls won’t want to marry at a really young age, they will become productive members of the work force and they won’t want many children.

Third World peoples must get rid of the silly, primitive notion that a girl’s place is at home raising a family; they must make women feel like important members of their societies; they must give women assess to family planning and they must do this as quickly as possible.

So, seven billion people on the planet is not all doom and gloom. It won’t be easy, but we can build a better future where everyone on the planet has a decent standard of living.

editor@thecoaster.ca

Organizations: United Nations, Third World

Geographic location: India, Philippines, Western

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