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  • Sacha Draycott

Global Population Reaches 8 Billion

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

It merely took 12 years to add a billion people to the Earth’s population. From the emergence of Homo sapiens, it took roughly 300,000 years before one billion of us roamed the planet. The implications for the planet and our own welfare are contingent on how we confront climate change.

The UN has declared November 15th as the “Day of Eight Billion”. The gravity of this moment is evident, but not for the reasons you might think. While some may take this as an opportunity to celebrate life and a milestone for human advancement, others may lament ‘overpopulation’ and the dangers that come with it.

Thanks to better health care, cleaner water, and sanitation advancements, which have all helped to mitigate the prevalence of disease, humans everywhere are living longer. Irrigation and fertilisers have increased crop yields and enhanced nutrition. More children are being born, and are at less of a risk of dying.

Of course with this myriad of benefits warnings about economic inequality and sustainability follow close behind.

With the rising population, additional strains on already limited resources have been applied. Spikes in pollution and emissions, and overfishing are degrading many areas of the ocean and many aquatic animals' numbers are reducing at an alarming rate. Humans wiping out forests and other wildlands for housing, agriculture, and commercial goods made from trees have caused wildlife to deplete at an exacerbated celerity. The changing climate caused by the form of emissions of large quantities of greenhouse gases as our global energy system is mainly powered by fossil fuels is arguably the greatest threat in history to food security, biodiversity, health, and access to natural resources. Overpopulation has triggered political unrest as well. The scarcity of resources has caused escalating violence over the years. We’ve seen wars fought over water, land, and namely oil in the Middle East. And these conflicts are with the number of people we already have. The additional stress on the planet will lead to ecological collapse so detrimental it threatens the viability of life on Earth – unless we as a collective tackle climate change.

However, with risks come opportunities – 8 billion opportunities. The opportunities of our rising population and parallel scarcity crisis is dependent on enhancing agency among women, encouraging and debunking myths about contraception, and spreading knowledge on family planning, which will undoubtedly change the trajectory of the world’s population.

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