On Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, the world population was expected to reach 8 billion. According to the United Nations, this milestone in human development is due to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine.
“While it took the global population 12 years to grow from 7 to 8 billion, it will take approximately 15 years—until 2037— for it to reach 9 billion, a sign that the overall growth rate of the global population is slowing,” the United Nations (UN) said.
The gradual increase in human lifespan is the most concentrated in developing countries, often the poorest countries, most of which are in sub-Sarahan Africa.
“In these countries, sustained rapid population growth can thwart the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which remain the world’s best pathway toward a happy and healthy future,” the international organization stated.
Earth’s population has doubled since 1974, and the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 44 per cent to 10 per cent in the same time frame, according to GapMinder.
People are living longer, thanks to declining child and maternal mortality, cures for deadly diseases, improved health care and other factors. Climate change continues to pose one of the biggest threats to humanity, according to the UN, and advancements in lower-income parts of the world could complicate global efforts to reduce its impact.
“Even though population growth magnifies the environmental impact of economic development, rising per capita incomes are the main driver of unsustainable patterns of production and consumption,” the UN reported. “The countries with the highest per capita consumption of material resources and emissions of greenhouse gas emissions tend to be those where income per capita is higher, not those where the population is growing rapidly.”
Reportedly, half of Earth’s population still lives in just seven countries: China, India, the U.S., Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Brazil. According to the UN, income inequality between countries has largely lessened over the past 25 years.
With so many factors at play, there is no “correct” way to view this news. Things are getting better, but many populations remain affected by negative circumstances. Famines, conflict, and mass displacement are only a sample of hardships faced by the world’s population.
“Slower population growth over many decades could help to mitigate the further accumulation of environmental damage in the second half of the current century,” the UN concluded.
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