The world’s population is slated to reach 7 billion next week, according to a United Nations report.
The milestone, expected to be reached Monday, Oct. 31, is being approached with caution by the U.N.
Over consumption by the existing population could pose an increased drain on the world’s resources as the population expands, the U.N.’s Population Fund said in a statement.
“With planning and the right investments in people now – to empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves but for our global commons – our world of 7 billion can have thriving, sustainable cities, productive labor forces that can fuel economic growth, youth populations that contribute to the well-being of economies and societies, and a generation of older people who are healthy and actively engaged in the social and economic affairs of their communities,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the U.N.’s Population Fund.
China and India make up more than a third of the world’s population, with 1.35 billion and 1.24 billion people respectively. The United States, by contrast, has a population of just slightly more than 300 million.
“Clearly we are living through an extraordinary period in human history, an era of unprecedented growth in our species,” says Steven Sinding, who has observed population trends over the years as director of the office of population at the United States Agency for International Development.
Currently, 60 percent of the world’s population lives in Asia and 15 percent in Africa. But populations in Sub-Sahara Africa are expected to double or triple by 2050, which may pose problems unless proper planning is enacted soon, the U.N. reports.
"The escape from poverty and hunger is made more difficult by rapid population growth," said John Cleland, an international expert on reproductive issues in Africa at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The demographics of the world’s almost 7 billion people remains overwhelmingly young.
People aged 24 and younger make up almost half of the world’s population, the U.N. reports.
But it’s a growth that is happening more rapidly each year.
The world’s population has more than doubled in the last century. The population was just 2 billion in 1927.
"(The) milestone is a wake-up call. It’s a reminder that we must act now,” Osotimehin said.