World population

The year I was born the world population reached 3 billion.

The United Nations Population Division estimates that the world’s population will pass 7 billion sometime on the 31st October 2011. This week there have been several news items about this population milestone. One of the items suggested that we if everyone in the world lived in one mega-city it would be the size of France. This got me thinking a little more about the environmental issues that we have to face.

Let’s suppose that the French actually allowed us to build a mega-city on their soil and everyone moved there, that’s 7 billion people in one place. How does one dispose of all the waste? And where does it go? Just the sewer system would have to be vast.

And to fuel, sorry, feed all those people. It’s bad enough with a city like Leeds – you can watch all the big trucks arriving on the motorways full of food and toilet rolls to supply us all. The logistics of getting enough food and clean water to 7 billion people in one city would be incredible.

And what about the local climate in the city? All the heat and waste gases would create a very large micro-climate over the city.

Actually, France are very unlikely to give us permission to do this and we will probably continue to spill out across the globe. But the logistics are still incredible. Far too many people are going hungry, too many people are experiencing injustice in the world. The 7 billion milestone needs to be an event that wakes us up to the reality now and not just the future possibilities. We need to become more aware of the implications of how we are living and see if we can find creative ways to make our planet more sustainable. To this end there are lots of activities appearing including “Population 7 Billion: It’s Time to Talk” which wants us to be part of a global discussion on today’s most pressing environmental, health, and justice issues. The website has a population clock (estimated of course) which shows the current estimated population and the estimated number of people added to the world’s population while you are on their website. In the short time I was on the website that number very quickly went above the number of people that I know!

Estimates vary wildly but one estimate suggests that if I live to be 100 years old the world population will be over 9 billion.

It’s time to talk.

It’s time to act.

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