The countdown for the world’s 7 billionth person: Should we be concerned?

Seven billion. That’s the number the world is going to see tomorrow, October 31, 2011.

According to the United Nations World Population Prospect, the world’s seven billionth baby might be born in India. The UN’s website states that it is not precise that the world’s population will read the 7 billion mark, but October 31 is a “symbolic date which is based on interpolated data from the original 5-year period estimates prepared by the Population Division.”

As the human population is rising, humanity as it seems is mounting with problems. And experts are already questioning if the world can truly accommodate the burst in numbers.

With concerns of global warming looming over the earth’s productivity and consumption patterns, depleting fresh water resources and increasing famine are some of the immediate crisis the world is facing.

“Human demands on the earth have grown enormously, though the atmosphere, the oceans and the continents are no bigger now than they were when humans evolved. Already, more than a billion people live without an adequate, renewable supply of fresh water,” writes Joel E. Cohen, a mathematical biologist and the head of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University and Columbia University, in The New York Times article published October 23.

But while concerns over the future are being critically analyzed—and even debated—it seems we are trying to sideline—and even ignore—the immediate scenario of the societies around us.

The problems the earth is facing today is larger and calls for prompt actions.

Let’s be talking about the number of millions who still don’t have a permanent place to live—827.6 million people living in slums around the world, according to the UN HABITAT’s “State of the World’s Cities 2010/11” report.

We should be concerned about 925 million hungry people on earth, an estimate put by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. The living images of hunger and hungry people are right in front of us in places like the Horn of Africa.

Forget about the food insecurity in the next 50 years. We should instead have a discourse on the 600 million people in the developing world who will still be undernourished in the next three years, as per the FAO projections.

Let’s be talking about places like Afghanistan where a woman dies every 27 minutes due to pregnancy related complications, as per Oxfam. Let’s start the conversation on the millions—and even some billion—population who are deprived from their basic rights as health and education.

The world’s population has always been growing and the trend will continue. Our planet will have seven billion members tomorrow. We will add another one billion by 2025, plus one more billion by 2043 and by 2083, the world will have 10 billion people.

That’s there, and therefore we should not be fretting about the boom in global population. We should rather be investing in the immediate crisis so that we will be building a solid framework and a base for a secure future that would support those additional numbers that are yet to come into this world.

As Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, writes in his article for the World Population Day 2011, “Reducing inequities and improving living standards for people alive today – as well as for generations to follow – will require new ways of thinking and unprecedented global cooperation. The moment to act is now.

“These are problems that can, and must, be solved. Together, we can forge the future with young people, advance rights for girls and women, and safeguard the natural resources on which we all depend.”

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