Monday, October 31, 2011

Seven Billion

In 1999 I got in trouble with my then twelve year old daughter, Emily, because I blabbed to the congregation that she had sat on my knee and watched with me as the population of the planet reached six billion. It was a very uncool thing for the dad of a twelve year old to do! It is estimated that today the population will reach seven billion, a staggering almost incomprehensible number of human being consuming all manner of goods and living longer than ever to boot. For some of us 1999 was just a blink ago so the increase in population is all the more sobering.

Someone commented to me not long ago that it seems that natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes seem to be affecting populated areas more than they could recall in the past. My response was that it really makes sense. There are fewer and fewer places on Earth where we humans aren't, so these scary events that go bump in the night are going to affect us, particularly in the countries where people take the risk of living along coastlines.

When I was born in October of 1954 I was the two billionth, seven hundred and third five millionth person (approx.) alive at that moment. I am not a mathematician but doesn't that mean the human population has increased by more than one hundred and fifty percent since then? Calculate for yourself at

There are a number of writers who suggest that not only is living simply an imperative for people of faith but voluntarily choosing smaller families is as well. This ethical discussion is something that the biblical writers just couldn't have anticipated, but perhaps loving our neighbour includes our own efforts not to crowd the neighbourhood.

What are your thoughts on this mind-boggling subject?


Anonymous said...

A while back I read something that compared man to plantlife. The gist of it was that man has basically always been in the same predicament as other lifeforms, including plant life. The writer compared human viruses to weeds more or less. The viruses become resistent to antibiotics just as a weed or non native plant grows resistent to either natural deterents to its progression or to pesticides. The writer believed that viruses mutating are a natural response to overpopulation, and that eventually viruses would outsmart us. Sorry I can't remember more about the science behind it.

It isn't hard to envision man being 'choked' out of existence when you look at the arial views from the National Geographic article or if you have ever seen the photography of Edward Burtnsky. There is nothing like visual proof of man's insignificance, ironcially even against the background of his own invention.

Whether we can pass laws that limit family size or not I don't know. That's a real dilema on so many fronts.There are theories out there that suggest that overpopulation is linked to higher rates of infertility. Again, I don't know how accurate the science is. Will questions about infertility treatments some day come into the same areana as questions about euthanasia? Will we question the right to reproduce in the same fashion as we question the right to die? I hate to be on either jury.

sjd said...

I've heard about the 7 billion coming for awhile now, but intil I went to the link you provided it never dawned on me that the population has exactly doubled since the day I was born. At this rate the earth will hit 14 billion before I'm as old as any of my grandparents were.

It is our instince to live. We fight to live, we would do anything to preserve the lives of our families. It's not a choice. It is the core of our being. To live, and love, and grow, have a family. Kids, grand kids, great grand kids. Many of us know a few great, great grand parents.

OOps! there are another 784 people now than when I started writing this response;)