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8 Ways to Look at 7 Billion

Children wait in line for medical care
Children wait in a line to receive medical treatment from the UN Stabilization Mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dec. 25, 2008. UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Interested in learning more about the world’s population? Here are some recent articles about the history, context and implications of 7 billion people living on earth.

The United Nations projects the world will reach a population of 7 billion on Oct. 31. You can attend a panel discussion of the issues, or watch the webcast, from 3-5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, in Roone Arledge Auditorium, Lerner Hall, Columbia University. To attend, you need to register ahead of time.)

Eight sources for information about the world’s population:

A Quick Trip to 7 Billion
An informative timeline traces the major historical events that have impacted population growth.

Countdown to 7 billion people on Earth (Oct. 14, 2011)
An historical overview looks at population growth from 1 billion to 7 billion.

As global population nears 7 billion, UN capitalizes on new opportunities (Sept. 14, 2011)
The United Nations will use the 7 billion population milestone to launch 7 Billion Actions, “bringing together governments, businesses, the media and individuals to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities offered by the milestone.”

Revisiting Population Growth: The Impact of Ecological Limits (Oct. 13, 2011)
“Nearly all population forecasts… implicitly assume that population growth will occur in a neutral zone without negative economic or environmental feedback.” – A necessary look at the intersection of population growth, environmental challenges and increasing resource consumption.

Half the World: Perspectives on Women as World Population Reaches 7 Billion (Sept. 15, 2011)
“It’s not about space. It’s about equity, justice and social distribution.” – A look at how educating and empowering women can greatly improve development

Can The Earth Support 7 Billion People? (April 28, 2011)
In this interview, journalist and author Andrew Revkin looks at the population explosion an on “imbalanced” earth. “There’s every chance the next 30-year period will be one of great innovation and collaboration around the world,” says Revkin.  “It just takes a little bit of focus to get you engaged in the conversations and the actions that are needed for brighter outcome.”

What happens if the population forecasts are wrong? (Sept. 9, 2011)
Uncertainty in key assumptions regarding fertility and demographic transition demands a closer examination of current population projections.

7 Billion, National Geographic Magazine (Dec. 27, 2010)
This animated video looks at growth in population and consumption with facts and projections.

Kathy Zhang is an intern at the Earth Institute and studying sustainable development at Columbia College.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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David Funkhouser
12 years ago

Thanks for your comments. I’d note that underlying population growth are issues that directly affect individuals like these two young girls: educating and empowering women, for one, which can have a significant impact on development, family size, public health, etc.

The post is not an “article about the population problem,” but rather points to other sources of information on the issue, with varied views — hence “8 ways to…” The intent is to help people learn more about the issues. The picture was intended to encourage people to think about the human impacts. It was not intended to suggest those two girls are the problem. Sorry if you interpreted it that way.

I looked at it this way: The girls are two reasons we should engage with these issues. DF

GPSO 2011
12 years ago

Because the population of the world ultimately affects most of the issues that we all really care about, the 7 Billion: It’s Time to Talk campaign is working to open up the conversation on population to new audiences around the globe. When everyone recognizes that there is a need to talk openly about population growth and the importance of family planning, the empowerment of women, and reproductive health and rights, we can more easily find the solutions to issues like global hunger and the environment. When people discover how a rapidly growing world population affects them and their hopes for the future, we know that more people, particularly young adults, will want to lend their voices to the global discussion.

12 years ago

[…] I met Kathy Zhang, a student and communicator focused on humans and their environment (here’s a post of hers on population from the Earth Institute […]