November 15, 2022 | 2:31 p.m
UNITED NATIONS – A baby born anywhere on Tuesday will make the world’s eight billionth human, according to a United Nations projection.
“The milestone is an opportunity to celebrate diversity and progress while recognizing humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
The UN attributes growth to human development, with people living longer thanks to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine.
It is also the result of higher fertility rates, particularly in the world’s poorest countries – most of them in sub-Saharan Africa – which threaten their development goals.
How many is too many?
Population growth has also increased the environmental impact of economic development.
But while some fear eight billion people is too many for planet Earth, most experts say the bigger problem is the overconsumption of resources by the wealthiest.
“Some are expressing concern that our world is overpopulated,” said United Nations Population Fund chief Natalia Kanem. “I’m here to make it clear that the sheer number of lives lost is not a cause for fear.”
Joel Cohen of Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Populations told AFP there are two sides to the question of how many people the earth can support: natural limits and human choices.
Our choices result in humans consuming far more biological resources, such as forests and land, than the planet can regenerate each year.
For example, the overconsumption of fossil fuels leads to more carbon dioxide emissions, which are responsible for global warming.
“We are stupid. We lacked foresight. we are greedy We do not use the information we have. Therein lie the choices and the problems,” said Cohen.
However, he dismisses the idea that humans are a bane on the planet and says humans should be given better choices.
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The current population is more than three times the global labor force of 2.5 billion in 1950.
However, after a peak in the early 1960s, world population growth has slowed dramatically, Rachel Snow of the UN Population Fund told AFP.
Annual growth has fallen from a peak of 2.1 percent between 1962 and 1965 to below 1 percent in 2020.
This could potentially fall further to around 0.5 percent by 2050 due to a continued decline in fertility rates, the United Nations projects.
MEET THE 8 billionth baby
The Commission on Population and Development welcomes the ‘symbolic 8 billionth baby in the world’ from the Philippines.
Vinice Mabansag, a little girl from Delpan, Tondo, was born on Tuesday November 15th at the Dr. Born at Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital.
???? POPCOM pic.twitter.com/onnt0nehiB
— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) November 15, 2022
The United Nations predicts that the population will increase to about 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and about 10.4 billion in the 2080s.
However, other groups have calculated different numbers.
The US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated in a 2020 study that the world population would peak by 2064, without ever reaching 10 billion, and would decline to 8.8 billion by 2100 .
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Since the first humans appeared in Africa over two million years ago, the world’s population has exploded, with only fleeting interruptions to the increasing numbers of people sharing the earth.
Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who had few children compared to later sedentary populations in order to maintain their nomadic lifestyle.
The introduction of agriculture in the Neolithic period, around 10,000 BC. BC, brought the first known large population jump.
With agriculture came sedentarization and the ability to store food, which caused birth rates to skyrocket.
According to the French Institute for Demographic Studies, the world population increased from about six million in 10,000 BC. to 100 million in 2,000 B.C. and then to 250 million in the first century AD.
As a result of the Black Death, the human population dropped from 429 to 374 million between 1300 and 1400.
Other events, such as Justinian’s plague, which swept the Mediterranean Sea over two centuries from 541 to 767, and the wars of the early Middle Ages in Western Europe also caused temporary dips in the number of people on Earth.
From the 19th century, the population began to explode, largely due to the development of modern medicine and the industrialization of agriculture, which boosted the world’s food supply.
Since 1800, the world population has increased eightfold from an estimated one billion to eight billion.
Vaccine development was key, with smallpox vaccination in particular helping to kill one of history’s greatest killers.