World Population Hits 7 Billion: Target Date October 31

While you’re out trick-or-treating with the kiddos, the world is set to reach a landmark population of 7 billion. It took just twelve years to go from a population of 6 billion to 7 billion on this planet, and that’s worrying some people. Can Earth sustain 7 billion people? What about 8 billion? We’re supposed to reach that benchmark in another 14 years.

My 19-year-old was in hearing distance as I watched this video about the upcoming population event. We discussed the fact that the highest birthrates are coming out of underdeveloped countries who just don’t have access to the birth control options that we do.

“But it’s not just that,” he said. “We’re feeding those people.” I looked at him, a little unsure about the point he was making. “It used to be that a community was only as big as the food available. The amount of food dictated how many people the land could support. By sending food to these countries, we’re creating a cycle: we help because they don’t have enough food, the people thrive on that larger amount of food, they have more babies, they begin to starve again, and we jump in to help.”

Now mind you, I’ve not raised a callous child. When I asked him what we should be doing when there are people starving in the world, he agreed that yes, we need to help. But we need to realize that by “helping” we’re also interfering with the natural order of things. Does anyone want to see children in the world starving? Absolutely not! But my son’s right. In traditional cultures, population was controlled (yes, sometimes via methods we couldn’t stomach today) in order to maintain a balance between available food and the mouths it would feed.

The folks at 7 Billion Actions, established by the United Nations Population Fund think “a world of 7 billion people poses many challenges – and countless opportunities to make a positive difference.” They invite you to share your story about how you’re making a difference in your community.

What do you think, GeekMoms? Is this landmark something that should be a concern for the people living here on Earth? Or is it just another number?

Image via Wikipedia under GNU and Creative Commons 3.0 license.

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