World Population Reaches 7 Billion Amid Warnings About Health, Natural Resources

“Countries around the world marked the world’s population reaching seven billion Monday with lavish ceremonies for newborn infants symbolizing the milestone and warnings that there may be too many humans for the planet’s resources,” the Associated Press/MSNBC.com reports (10/31). “With the world’s population more than doubling over the last half century, basics like food and water are under more strain than ever, say experts, and providing for an additional two to three billion people in the next 50 years is a serious worry,” AlertNet/Reuters writes, adding that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says food production will have to increase by 70 percent to keep pace. “But climate change may be the greatest impediment to meeting this target, say experts,” the news agency notes (Kumar/Bhalla, 10/31).

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a press event at U.N. Headquarters on Monday that in recognizing the birth of “baby seven billion … we must recognize our moral and pragmatic obligation to do the right thing for him, or for her,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Ban said the world is full of “‘terrible contradictions,’ … noting that there is plenty of food but one billion people go hungry; lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for too many others; huge advances in medicine while mothers die everyday in childbirth; and billions spent on weapons to kill people instead of keeping them safe,” according to the news service (10/31). The Christian Science Monitor notes that total population continues to climb, but the rate of growth has steadily declined since the 1960s, when it peaked at about two percent. However, in some regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, it remains “well above replacement level, … where it still tops two percent” (Zirulnick, 10/31).