Long lines and more traffic as world population reaches 7 billion

Posted on November 7, 2011


On Monday October 21st, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) announced that the world’s population would reach a stunning seven billion people on the 31st October [1].

Now, you may be asking yourself “how do they know that the seven billionth person will be born on the 31st of October?” Well, the answer is that nobody actually knows. The milestone may have been reached earlier or may be reached later, but that’s not the point! The point is that since 1999, the world population has grown by another billion people, that is the equivalent of an additional 200 000 people each day [2].

But how does this affect ME?
(FYI: I am a generation X slash Y and thus have a tendency to be egocentric).

Well, living in Perth, Australia, the world population reaching 7 billion has inconvenienced me by adding an extra few minutes to my daily commute into work/university and… and…there was something else I complained about on fb … oh yes, the line at the Nespresso coffee counter at Myers … what is with the kilometre-long line to buy pods?? That HAS to be either i) population growth in general OR ii) population growth of cashed up bogans (a phenomenon seen primarily in Western Australia.

The ‘good’ news is that developed countries like Australia need not worry…our average annual population growth rate is almost reaching zero (Australia = 0.4), with Japan actually experiencing zero ‘population growth’ and Germany experiencing negative ‘population growth’ (-0.1) [3].

The ‘bad’ news is the countries experiencing big annual population growth are those typically considered ‘developing’ (Malawi =3.0, Burkina Faso = 3.0, Eretria = 3.2) [3]. Factors such as access to health care (i.e. family planning) and the status of women impact greatly on these figures.
What is more alarming however, is that these ‘developing’ countries are not only experiencing high population growth, but their urban population growth (mainly driven by rural-to-urban migration) is also frighteningly high (Malawi =2.6, Burkina Faso = 3.1, Eretria = 2.4) [3]. Such rapid and uncontrolled urban population boom means that cities are unable to cope with this influx of people resulting in the rise and expansion of urban slums and extreme urban poverty. Governments in these countries are also the least equipped/able to deal with such rapid and uncontrolled population growth.

Anyway, before I get side-tracked and start ranting about governments and corruption – I wanted to share this collection of photos from National Geographic – it gives you an idea on how families, communities and countries are ‘coping’ or dealing with the population growth and how population growth is in fact unsustainable – So, some food for thought…

1. Stop the baby bonus introduced by our government: in reality most parents are economically and emotionally responsible, and the one’s that aren’t…well, they are probably a version of Juno you don’t want to know about
2. How about introducing the 1 child policy in Australia (or maybe stop at 2 – the average number of children per Australian couple is 1.7); And of course
3. Australia you can actually accept more refugees

BAM – 3 birds with one stone!

Of course, I have no idea how you would abolish/introduce some of these policies in Australia – We do have it pretty good when you think about it, but hey – they are suggestions nonetheless, because that is how researchers end their publications and reports, with recommendations.

Enjoy the photos…


[1] State of the World’s Population Report: People and Possibilities in a World of 7 Billion (http://www.unfpa.org/swp/)
[2] This has to do with databases and the importance of national registers, but don’t get me started on this issue!)
[3] World Population Prospects, the 2010 Revision (http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Sorting-Tables/tab-sorting_population.htm)