Observed each year on July 11, the World Population Day is a unique event. Unlike Teachers’ Day or Women’s Day when we highlight the positive attributes of the subject, Population Day is an observance that calls attention to population-related issues. Here is a quick look at why this day is important.
In 1987 a World Bank demographer noticed that the world population was about to cross the 5 billion mark. He suggested that it might be a good idea to call attention to this important global demographic. The best way to do so would be for the UN to proclaim a new observance. The world population has since continued to grow. It has crossed many milestones. The objective of the observance has remained unchanged. The World Population Day is essentially a reminder that unchecked population growth is a source of many problems for mankind. Even though the event occurs just once a year, the global population rises every day, every hour, and every minute.
Through the medium of the World Population Day the UN aims to highlight the importance of issues such as family planning. In 1350 the global human population was a comfortable 370 million. Humanity practiced a sustainable existence. There were no man-made environmental issues. Destruction of natural habitats and extinction of species were not prominent issues.
In March 2020 the global population exceeded 7.8 billion. The exploding human population has put excessive stress on natural resources. Man-made climate change and environmental degradation have become major issues. Nations are failing to control carbon emissions. The oceans are heating up. Species are going extinct at an unprecedented rate. Weather patterns are starting to oscillate wildly, with unforeseen extremes.
The quality of human life is also affected by the effects of overpopulation. The UN acknowledges that gender inequality, poverty, and poor infant health are now major issues. People, communities, and nations are competing with each other for limited natural resources. At the current rate of growth the world’s human population will cross 10 billion by 2050. As the global population expands, these issues will only worsen.
Overpopulation creates scarcity. More than 2 billion humans live in poverty in the world’s developing nations. The lack of opportunities forces them to travel abroad for work. Migrant workers send money online, which is the only source of income for millions of families.
The populations of all other species on the planet are regulated by the natural order of food chains. Humans are disturbing this delicate natural balance. Overpopulation is pushing food prices up. Residential and industrial development is encroaching on agricultural land and natural habitats. Many of our agricultural practices are environmentally unsustainable. For energy we still rely largely on fossil fuels, which are finite and will eventually run out. Our unsustainable practices only serve to exacerbate the scarcity which plagues us.
Call to action
Alleviating poverty is central to achieving many of humanity’s goals. It is easier to rise up out of poverty when there are fewer people and enough resources for all. There is an obvious need to control population growth. This requires strategies to reduce human birth rates.
One way to do this is through government mandates. The success of China’s one-child policy is proof that such strategies can be effective. China reduced its birth rate through a process of enforcement with financial penalties and mandatory sterilization. Some may see this form of enforcement as being excessive or even oppressive. However the results of unchecked population growth can be much worse.
Another option is to control birth rates via education. Communities and nations with higher levels of education tend to have lower birth rates. Many scholars assert that educating and empowering women is the key to achieving this. With fewer offspring per family, children can get better nutrition, education, and opportunities. Controlling birth rates through education is a measure that only works in the very long term. With this strategy it can take a century before the global human population stops expanding.
Our planet is facing unprecedented challenges of our own making. The issues we face have been created by humanity’s unsustainable practices, unregulated breeding, and overconsumption. It is time for us to do our part as nations and as individuals. The most impactful way to reduce one’s environmental impact is not by going vegan or using public transport. It is by having fewer children and by supporting women’s rights.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.