Nov. 15, 2022 – The global population is projected to reach 8 billion Tuesday, prompting conversations about the impacts of continued population growth.
The United Nations published a website marking the “Day of 8 Billion,” calling the statistic a “milestone in human development” and “an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity's shared responsibility for the planet.”
The U.N. attributed population growth to people living longer due to modern medical, nutrition, and hygiene advancements, as well “high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries.”
But world population growth is slowing. It took 12 years for the worldwide head count to grow from 7 billion to 8 billion. It will take 15 years to grow to 9 billion.
The disparities between wealthy and poor countries – particularly African countries – are of serious concern, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a statement. Places where the population is growing the fastest are the poorest places.
“Billions of people are struggling; hundreds of millions are facing hunger and even famine. Record numbers are on the move seeking opportunities and relief from debt and hardship, wars and climate disasters,” he warned. “Unless we bridge the yawning chasm between the global haves and have-nots, we are setting ourselves up for an 8-billion-strong world filled with tensions and mistrust, crisis and conflict.”
Global think tanks are also sounding alarms about a looming catastrophic lack of resources among the “have-nots.”
More than 700 million people in sub-Saharan Africa already live without enough food. With projected rapid population growth there, “much of sub-Saharan Africa will be unsustainable by mid-century,” according to data from the Institute for Economics and Peace and reported by Reuters.
"Every single person needs fuel, wood, water, and a place to call home," Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director with the Center for Biological Diversity, told the outlet.
Guterres said that addressing disparities and transforming these grim predictions is within the world’s reach via “relatively small investments in healthcare, education, gender equality and sustainable economic development.”
“In these difficult times, we would do well to remember the words of one of humanity’s wisest observers, Mahatma Gandhi: ‘The world has enough for everyone's need – but not everyone's greed.’”