World Population Day

            The United Nations has designated July 11 each year as World Population Day.  This date was chosen in 1990 because it was the anniversary of the Day of Five Billion, when the world’s human population was estimated to have reached five billion individuals in 1989.  Total world population in mid-2020 is around 7.6 billion people.

The earth now holds about 7.6 billion people (photo by Jubair Sayeed Linas)

World Population Day is organized by the United Nations Population Fund, the primary global agency dedicated to reducing population growth by enhancing women’s health.  Each year, the organization chooses a theme to highlight critical issues.  In 2017, the theme was family planning, in recognition that “around the world, some 214 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and effective family planning methods, for reasons ranging from lack of access to information or services to lack of support from their partners or communities.” 

Global population continues to rise, but the rate of growth is declining (graph by Frank Gotmark)

            Human population became a societal issue in the 1960s when the reality of rapid growth collided with fears about the ability of the earth to sustain large populations.  Books like Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb, published in 1969, predicted massive famine in the 1970s and the total collapse of India. 

            Fortunately, the dire predictions of the 1960s have not occurred.  With increases in agricultural productivity and improved health in developing countries, population growth rates have fallen—perhaps a counter-intuitive outcome.  But when quality of life improves, birth rates gradually decline.  In the 1960s, the earth’s human population was expected to reach 15 billion individuals before stabilizing.  Today, the stable population is predicted to be about 11 billion.

Providing education for girls in the developing world is the surest way to reduce population growth (photo by Amuzujoe)

            Despite this improvement, population continues to grow.  The Day of Six Billion occurred on October 12, 1999, and the Day of Seven Billion on October 31, 2011. Each year, we add a net of about 80 million people to the earth—the equivalent of the country of Turkey.  Birth rates are highest in Africa, and the continent’s total population is expected to double, from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion, over the coming generation. 

            Consequently, continued attention to the reduction of population growth rate is needed.  And the problem is a multi-faceted one, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stated:  “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s blueprint for a better future for all on a healthy planet. On World Population Day, we recognize that this mission is closely interrelated with demographic trends including population growth, ageing, migration and urbanization.”

References:

Coleman, Jasmine.  2011.  World’s “Seven Billionth Bay” is Born.  The Guardian, 31 October 2011.  Available at:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/31/seven-billionth-baby-born-philippines.  Accessed July 11, 2017.

Sommerfeld, Julia.  1999.  World Population Hits 6 Billion.  NBC News.  Available at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3072068/ns/us_news-only/t/world-population-hits-billion/#.WWUb64TytEY.  Accessed July 11, 2017.

United Nations.  World Population Day, July 11.  Available at:  http://www.un.org/en/events/populationday/.  Accessed March 24, 2020.

United Nations Population Fund.  2017.  World Population Day, 11 July 2017.  Available at:  http://www.unfpa.org/events/world-population-day.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Alvaro Uglade, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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