Check this, according to the National Geographic Magazine [love it to the max!], by late 2011, our global population is expected to exceed 7 billion, which is a new milestone in the history of earth.
So, what does this mean to us?
One of the most critical things is about our food and natural resources. How are we going to feed a rising number of populations when our arable land is becoming scarcer? Imagine this, China has more than 1.2 billion people, but only 13% of its land is fit for agriculture. Around the globe, one billion people are in a serious need of nutritional food, and in any given moment, it is not always to those living in Africa or Asia. More and more land is changed into residential or industrial areas, and in other cases, edible crops that can be used to feed people are now being treated as green oil, further diminishing potential source of human food. Fish, one of humans' important nutrient sources, are not too fast in restoring its stock. The population is also straining the earth with the needs of depleting natural resources. Without oil, for example, can we drive our automobilesl? A condition known as peak oil [the time when we reach the highest rate of petroleum extraction] is fast approaching. We too are using other resources to build structures, or make consumers’ products. Using renewable resources like hydropower, geothermal, and solar energy or sources that can be replenish (i.e. bamboo) should be our priority now, but the developments are still slow.
More people are becoming urbanised now. 2007 is the year when the urban population surpassed the rural population for the first time. Now, 21 megacities [cities with more than 10 million people, such as New Delhi, Tokyo, New York, and Mexico City] exist. Nevertheless, a common problem that occurs all around this megacities [and perhaps even smaller cities] is slum. Those living in slums like South Asia’s Dharavi and Orangi Township, Neza-Chalco-Itza in Mexico, or Nairobi’s Kibera don’t have excess to proper sanitary conditions, or electricity, and not to mention, many are living below the poverty line. So, actually how are we going to tackle this? The main crisis of every slum is not the large number of residents, but poverty and the lack of education. In another thing, what are we going to do about the dwindling number of rural populations? Are they not in the race of modernisation that happens in the cities?
Our world is becoming increasingly populated day by day. With almost 7 billion permanent residents roaming the streets, forests, deserts, or tundra all around the globe, one can imagine how many natural areas left in every corner. Have you ever think about how we alter the natural environment? As an example, we are undoubtedly making the night shimmers with light from buildings, street lights, cars, and even large fishing fleets or oil drilling buildings in the sea. Light pollution alters animals’ lives, such as disorientating birds in night and causing confusions to a baby turtle that needs to go to the sea after its hatch. The oceans are getting silent no more as we are invading them with too many of our artificial sounds that hinder those made by marine animals. One might say the best way to protect our nature is by establishing national parks or others similar areas, but the real threats lie beyond the parks’ boundaries – air, water, and land pollution, more people edging to natural areas, increasing carbon footprints. What’s more, we are also deleting a large number of unprotected forests from the face of earth for the sake of development. Let's not forget climate change.
Two main issues in connection with the growth in population are education and the elderly people. With education, a country’s birth rate can fall, as what European countries and Japan have shown us. Europe’s population now is around 700 million. Give her a few decades or more, and we’ll get just slightly more than 650 million. In fact Europe is the only continent to experience a population drop. In Japan, more elderly persons exist, and the country has a stable birth and death rate. Why is this happening? Educated people know their rights and are able to choose on how to live their lives especially in this time of economic downturn. Many developing countries have neither the expertise nor educated populations that can help to slow down the birth of babies. Nevertheless, the world’s birth rate now is smaller than in the 1960s, and is expected to plummet continuously. This leads us to a new problem, the appearance of a large number of the elderly. With lesser children, who are going to take care of them? In China and Japan, this is starting to take place.
As the earth is approaching its 7 billionth people mark, we are continuing our discrimination towards people, other living things how titanic or minute they are, and of course, earth, in a sad and regrettable manner. 7 billion is just a number. The real thing is how these 7 billion people, which include you and me, are starting the sole mission of saving this mother earth.