This post is courtesy of Jaclyn Seisman, Communications Coordinator at Population Action International.
In less than a month, we’re going to have 7 billion people on this planet. 7 billion. That number is so big it’s almost hard to fathom, but let’s try to put it into context.
Say you and your 7 billion fellow humans wanted to attend a football game. For all of us to have a seat, we’d need 87,500 Cowboys Stadiums. Want to go to a concert? We could fill Madison Square Garden 350,000 times. And how about travel? It would take more than 12 million airplanes to transport all of us, even if we all took the largest jet available today.
The world’s population is estimated to reach the 7 billion milestone on October 31, 2011. And it doesn’t stop there. We add more than 200,000 people to the world each day, and according to United Nations projections, there could be 9 billion of us before 2050.
With that many people, population issues can seem overwhelming. One interesting way to find out where you fit into the global population is through a new interactive app by Population Action International, What’s Your Number? It allows you to enter your birth date and discover your place in the world. Are you number 2 bilion, or 4 billion? How many people were born between your parents’ birth and your own?
You can see where you fall on the population curve and add yourself to a map showing the distribution of individuals worldwide.
There’s no doubt that we’re growing fast, as babies continue to be born, and people in many countries are living longer. After the world population hit 1 billion in 1804, it took 123 years to add another billion. By contrast, it took only 72 years to add the next 4 billion — 2 billion people in 1927 to 6 billion people in 1999.
To make their projection of 9 billion people by 2050, the UN assumes a dramatic decline in fertility rates across the world, converging to 2.1 children per woman. However, such a decline is unlikely unless we respond to the 215 million women around the world who want to prevent pregnancy but need contraception.
If these millions of women continue to lack access to contraception and have limited economic and education opportunities, the world’s population numbers could become far greater. More importantly, without contraception, these women will be unable to determine the size of their families, which could have serious consequences for their lives, their children’s lives and their communities. This is especially concerning in nations such as Yemen, Afghanistan and much of sub-Saharan Africa, where women continue to have an average of more than 5 children.
In short, the decision and policies we make today will ultimately determine whether our numbers climb to anywhere from 8 billion to 11 billion by mid-century. Each of us is part of this population, and each of us is part of the solution. For more information, visit www.whats-your-number.org.
photo via istock