World Population Day
July 11 is World Population Day, a holiday that was created to bring to light the importance of understanding the impact that our ever-growing population has on both humans and the environment. Earth’s population is constantly increasing. Only 200 years ago we reached 1 billion humans, and since then we have gained nearly 7 billion more. As I write this, there have been nearly 300,000 births and 130,000 deaths today alone, meaning that in one day there has been a population growth of about 170,000 people. Only a little over halfway through the year there has been a population growth of over 41 million people. At our current rate of growth, the UN believes that we will reach over 11 billion people by 2100.
It is difficult to conceptualize just how many people this is. To get an idea, check out Worldometer.com, where you can see a visual of everyone alive right now, how quickly people are being born, and where they live. Scrolling through this page is an effective way to see just how packed our planet is already. Can our planet handle 11 billion people?
Many scientists say yes, our planet can handle many more people than we already have, but only if we do it right. There are steps that must be taken to ensure that we have the means to house and feed everyone effectively. Let’s take a moment to see what will be affected by a mass increase of global population.
- Global food production will need to increase by 70% by 2050.
- Huge pressure on standards of food production
- With higher demands for food, less time can be taken on food production, and corners may have to be cut
- As short-term measures are taken to bring forth more food at a faster rate, issues such as soil degradation can affect our farms
- Increased risk of food fraud
- Change in farming technologies
- Sensor-based to find imperfections
- Focus on reducing waste in all aspects of production
- Vertical farming
- Change in global diet
- Less meat products
- As aquaculture grows, more fish
- Change diets to include edible insects
- Change in family planning methods in developing countries
- Safe contraceptive services for women
- Growing elderly population
- Greater burdens on healthcare
- Increasing numbers of dependants
- More common to see long-term diseases requiring long-term care
- Improvements in life expectancy
- Education offered to all people, regardless of sex or gender
- More of a demand for food, water, space, shelter
- Increase in waste
- Massive increase in the consumption of goods, many of which are not needed for a comfortable life
- Increase in the use of fossil fuels for energy affects CO2 levels globally
- Renewable power sources
- Wind turbines
- Solar powered houses, cars, etc.
- Electric cars
In order for the world to continue living in such a way that we can all survive happily and healthily, we must all work to make changes. Here’s what we can do:
- Use alternative methods for transportation
- Public transportation (bus, subway, etc.)
- Plan what you will be eating before going to the grocery store to reduce food waste
- Create a compost bin
- Gain a better understanding of expiration dates (sell-by vs. use-by dates)
- Use reusable containers when shopping and storing food
- Learn about gardening
- Look into your library - books, CDs, DVDs, video games, events, and hobby items are often available only a couple of minutes away
And most importantly, take some time to educate yourself. On this ever changing planet of ours, it is impossible to know everything regarding the environment. Learn the laws in your area about recycling. Fight for human rights regarding contraception, family planning, and education for women globally. Gain a better understanding about the products that you purchase and use everyday; where do they receive their ingredients? How do they make their packaging? How well do they pay their workers?
Once we begin to understand just how much of an impact we have on the longevity of our planet, and how we can change the lives of those all over the world if we only took the time and put forward the effort, we can start to see Earth become a better, healthier place.