I honestly don’t even have a clue how they’ve predicted this, but apparently today the world’s population will hit 7 billion people (I hope that baby wins a TV, or a blanket or something). And, as expected, for months people have been spinning off their worst case scenarios.
Can the world sustain 7 billion people?
Will this be the beginning of the end?
Take a deep breath.
Because most reliable sources say our world will have no problem sustaining 7 billion people.
I know 7 billion people sounds like a ton of people and where in the world would we fit them but did you know that you could fit 7 billion people in the state of Texas and it would only have the population density of New York City, which is not really my style but many love it.
As Joel Cohen of Rockefeller University pointed out in the New York Times recently, we have more than enough food, water and other essentials to keep every one of the 7 billion — and far more — perfectly healthy.
In fact, the world is physically capable of feeding, sheltering and enriching many more people in the short term. Between 1820, at the dawn of the industrial age, and 2008, when the world economy entered recession, economic output per person increased elevenfold.
Life expectancy tripled in the last few thousand years, to a global average of nearly 70 years. The average number of children per woman fell worldwide to about 2.5 now from 5 in 1950. The world’s population is growing at 1.1 percent per year, half the peak rate in the 1960s. The slowing growth rate enables families and societies to focus on the well-being of their children rather than the quantity.
But here’s where I think we’ve got to put some thought in as believers. Here’s a unique opportunity we’re going to have as we move forward in the population boom.
A billion people — that’s 1 in 7 — go hungry around the world today, but that’s not because the planet is incapable of producing enough food to feed them. After all, as much as half the food produced worldwide ends up wasted, either rotting in the fields, the markets or in our refrigerator. We could feed 7 billion, 8 billion, 9 billion and probably more — if we chose to do so.
That’s one of the reasons I’m relatively sanguine about the population issue. It’s basically impossible to predict the future, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. But humanity has been pretty good so far at responding to the challenges this planet puts before us, and I see little reason to expect that will change. More people, after all, does mean more potential problem solvers, not just more mouths to feed.
So let’s just brainstorm a bit. Obviously there’s going to be some challenges in the upcoming years as our world continues to grow in population. What do you think a few of those issues might be? What opportunities, if any, will this provide for those of us who are believers.