Magazine article The Human Life Review

Welcome Baby Seven Billion

Magazine article The Human Life Review

Welcome Baby Seven Billion

Article excerpt

A few seconds after midnight a baby emerged from a mother's womb, drew a first breath, and announced his or her arrival into the world with a tiny cry. This is Baby Seven Billion. Today, 31 October 2011, is this baby's birthday.

As our numbers have grown, incomes have soared. In 1800, when there were only 1 billion of us, per capita income worldwide was a mere $100. By 1927 our numbers had doubled, but incomes had already increased five times to $500. By the time we reached 3 billion in 1960, income had tripled again to $1500. Today, as we pass the 7 billion mark, per capita income has soared to $9,000.

In 2100, when the population will be between 7 and 8 billion (and falling), it is projected to be $30,000 in current dollars.

Driving the so-called "population explosion" has been a real explosion in health and longevity. As late as the 19th century, four out of every 10 children died before reaching age five. Today under-five mortality is under 6 percent and falling. Two hundred years ago, human life expectancy was under 30 years. Today it is 69 years and climbing.

As people live longer, naturally there are more of us around at any given time.

By nearly every measure of well-being, from infant mortality and life expectancy to educational level and caloric intake, life in Africa, Asia, and Latin America has been getting dramatically better. According to the World Bank, the average income in the developing world has quadrupled since 1960.

Enough grain is produced for every person on earth to consume 3,500 calories daily. There is no need for anyone to starve in the midst of this plenty.

Population has more than doubled since 1960, but crop yields per hectare have kept pace. World food and resource production has never been higher. Economies continue to expand, productivity is up, and pollution is declining. Life spans are lengthening, poverty is down, and political freedom is growing. The human race has never been so well off.

In fact, underpopulation, not overpopulation, is the real threat that much of the world faces today. Some 80 countries representing over half the world's population suffer from below replacement fertility - defined as less than 2.1 children per woman.

The populations of the developed nations today are static or declining. The UN predicts that, by 2050, Russia's population will have declined by 25 million people, Japan's by 21 million, Italy's by 16 million, and Germany's and Spain's by 9 million each. …

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