Have you noticed that things have been feeling a little… crowded recently? That may be because world population is creeping closer and closer to the seven billion mark, which it’s predicted to hit on October 31, 2011, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
It was only 12 years ago that we topped six billion; in fact, if you’re looking for terror, population stats are way more effective than most haunted houses. Consider the fact that if fertility rates remained at 1995 levels for the next century or so, in 2150 world population would be 256 billion. Yeah. Go hide under your bed now, while there’s still room under there.
(However, the news does present a great costume opportunity for folks who don’t feel like dressing up. If someone asks you what you are, just tell them you’re the 7th billion human. Terrifying!)
Okay, deep breaths. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has a Population Center, and they’re going to tell us that it’s all going to be okay. Or maybe not — but at least they’ll be reassuringly professional about it. Watch their panel The Seven Billionth Human: What Does This Birth Mean? in person or streaming on the web this Friday from 2-4 PM. Speakers include Babatunde Ostimehin, the executive director of the UN Population Fund; Hania Zlotnik, Director of the UN’s Population Division; David Lam, an economics professor from the University of Michigan; and Brian O’Neill of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
“The only sustainable population growth in the long term is zero. The question is how we get there,” says Hopkins prof Stan Becker. Wondering how you can do your part? I’ve always thought that Philip Larkin had some pretty good advice on that…