Memories and lessons learned

7 billion people!!!

Today, the 7 billionth person was born! Incredible!! In a world that’s overcrowded, has mass poverty, and rampant hunger, we’re still having babies and living longer than ever before.

So what does this mean for environmental sustainability?  According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, a two-pronged approach needs to be taken to address the challenges of supporting 7 billion people.  First, the education and empowerment of women to make their own decisions when it comes to reproduction.  Second, reduction in the consumption of natural resources.

According to Population Action International“Nearly half the world’s population—some 3 billion people—is under the age of 25 and entering their childbearing years. Their childbearing choices, and the information and services available to them, will determine whether human numbers climb to anywhere from 8 billion to 11 billion by mid-century.”

In 1804, the world’s population was 1 billion; 123 years later, another billion people were added.  It took less than 100 years to pass the next four billion people!!  What happened??  Several factors: populations in developing countries are growing, people are living longer, high fertility rates, and so on.

But despite the growing numbers, the rate of growth is slowing down.  Access to reproductive health services is getting better, however there are still many countries where women have limited, if any, access to reproductive health education, services, and contraception.  For example, in Yemen, Afghanistan, and much of sub-Saharan Africa, women have an average of more than 5 children.

So you weren’t the 7 billionth person born, so what?  It’s probably a good thing, actually.  But you can still find out what your number is by inputting your birthday on Population Action International’s website.  My number is 4,403,273,991.

And what about the border area?  According to an article published by the Migration Information Source in 2006, 11.8 million people live along the US-Mexico border.  Approximately a quarter of those living along the US side live at or below the poverty line.  This is double the rate of the national average.  Unemployment is also higher along the border compared to the rest of the country.

Population projection for US-Mexico border region (from Southwest Center for Environmental Research and Policy)

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