Eight billion humans live on planet Earth – a milestone officially projected and recognized on Tuesday, November 15 by the UN
(AXIOS).- Why is it important: People are living longer, with generally better access to health care, food, clean water and sanitation than in previous generations. A smaller proportion of humans live in extreme poverty.
- There are still challenges — the continued ramifications of the pandemic, record numbers of forcibly displaced people and worsening climate change.
“This is a momentous step for humanity,” Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), told reporters last month.
- “Some are expressing concern that our world is overcrowded with far too many people and insufficient resources to support them. I am here to make it clear that sheer human life count is not a cause for fear.
By the numbers: Earth’s population has doubled since 1974.
- Population growth has slowed: It took 12 years for the world’s population to increase from 7 billion to 8 billion, according to the UN We will not reach 9 billion for about 15 years.
- Half of the population still lives in only 7 countries: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Brazil. India’s population could overtake China’s any day.
- “The last century has been one of exponential population growth,” said Jennifer Sciubba, a Wilson Center researcher and author of 8 billion and more, says Axios. According to her, this century is characterized more by divergent demographic trends. “We see wide chasms in birth, death and even migration around the world.”
Between the lines: In many ways, global demographic trends indicate that life is improving. We are living longer, thanks to lower infant and maternal mortality, cures for deadly diseases, improved health care and other factors.
- Extreme poverty has declined and income inequality between countries has narrowed significantly over the past 25 years, according to the UN
- The share of people living in extreme poverty – less than $2 a day – has fallen from 44% in 1974 to 10%, according to data from GapMinder.
But there are populations facing serious challenges, and the pandemic has reversed some progress in education, health care and poverty.
- Climate change continues to pose one of the greatest threats to humanity, according to the UN, and progress in low-income parts of the world could complicate global efforts to reduce its impact.
- A record 100 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, aggravated by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- A serious famine threatens the Horn of Africa. International aid agencies have recently struggled to find enough resources to deal with multiple conflicts and crises at once.
“The big picture is that things are looking up a lot,” Sciubba told Axios. Even so, there are countries with high fertility rates “marked by famine and conflict, mass displacement… We have to keep several truths in our heads”, she added.