Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meditations on 7,000,000,000

Earlier this week in the Philippines, the (hypothetical, of course) 7 billionth person on the planet was born.

There's a lot of talk--granted, mostly from Ted Turner--about how overpopulation is one of the worst things that can happen to this planet. And they'll usually use these anecdotal pictures of a crowded street:

Honestly I'm trying to wrap my mind around that many people and what it means for the planet. But my initial reaction to the population increase is not so bleak and horrific. I tend to think that the more people on the planet, despite there being more mouths to feed, means more minds to solve the problem.

Although it's easy for me to say that as I shovel starburst candy into my mouth from an evening of children going door to door and receiving food that they do not need, from people they do not know, I tend to be more optimistic. Research shows that less people are dying from disease and starvation--even as the population continues to rise. It's still a staggeringly horrific fact that millions still do die each year from easily preventable causes, but it's encouraging to know that the number is continually dropping each year.

The rising population is already starting to plateau, and the more humanity progresses the more it will continue to do so. Instead of freaking out about the population of the planet, let's do what we can to help those on it. There is a way. And it probably involves all seven billion of us.

For an interesting read, check out this article.