Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seven billion and what next?

Yesterday was the agree-upon milestone indicating that humanity had reached the awesome population of 7 billion inhabitants. Just as a reminder, the 6 billion mark was reached only 12 years ago. Reactions have mostly been muted. People care a lot more about short-term bumps like the Greek crisis than catastrophic upcoming issues like overpopulation. The only question some folks ask is whether there will be enough to eat. That's understandable; these must be already obese, overweight or on their way to enter either one category. They don't want an empty table they'd have to share with billions of others.

Food, in fact, is not the main problem. The spooky side of the issue is that we are far too many and are wrecking the environment and its complex ecosystem at breakneck speed. That destruction of nature is a lagging consequence of overpopulation in a world that – at best – was meant to comfortably support between 1,5 and 2 billion people. Today we're crying that the environment is in shambles, gets warmer and is going to the dogs. Well, this is the consequence of the 5 billion level we reached back in 1987.

Wait until what today's 7 billion of us will do to the earth in terms of irreparable damage; the problem is that we won't know for at least one or two decades. The solution that no one has the courage or common sense to address at the highest, leadership level is that it's time to stop making babies. Not in Japan or Italy, but in Africa and Asia, among other places, and unlike reducing global warming and rising sea levels, family planning is a no-brainer!

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