One month ago, the world's "official" population finally surpassed 7 billion individuals - and even with methods of population supervision allowing for a "window of uncertainty" of approximately 6 months, give or take, it is still clear that the 7 billion mark is close at hand. The UN marked the date last month to create awareness of the world's dizzying growth in population over the last decade; it was less than 13 years ago that the world population reached 6 billion.

The figures are brought up, not because their exactitude has any real significance, but because they represent a serious problem that needs to be faced in terms of agricultural sustainability. A critical concern, as Robert Walker, executive VP of the Population Institute, illustrates is that "many of the countries that will double or triple their populations in the next 40 years are already losing the fight against hunger, poverty, and poor health."

This is not to suggest, either, that the world population is at critical mass. Population concerns have been around for a while, most notably in the 1960s, and technological advances then allowed for the rate of food production to rise enough to sustain the rate of population growth. David Lam, President of the Population Association of America, sees this "7 billion mark" and the projected 10 billion mark by the end of the century with a similar view.  It is just another technological challenge that needs to be met.

The UN, however, is concerned that the world's poorest individuals will be rendered even more vulnerable in the coming decades. Executive director of the UN Population Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin, stressed the importance of providing women around the world with proper family planning education and opportunities.  He also highlighted the need to tackle the rapid urbanization issues facing many countries in the near future.

What all of this distills into is that the world has reached a point where changes need to happen to sustain the growing population. Whether this solution will come from simply using the earth's resources more efficiently, technological advances in food engineering, increasing family planning opportunities in underprivileged nations, some combination of all three, or another idea entirely, is unclear.  A certainty, however, is this: unless these problems are tackled with the appropriate foresight, and global support, there could be trouble.

If we, as a global community decide not to fight at least philosophically for every individual's right to access basic human needs, it is likely those in need will be forced to fight for themselves.  

Photo Credits: Sanfran Arts, Church and State UK, Wikipedia

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