Is 7 Billion People Something to Celebrate?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2011 in Sustainability


The United Nations announced today that the world population will exceed seven billion people. It’s hard to say when we will actually meet that number (predicted for April 2012), but it’s a milestone being celebrated as babies are being born around midnight at hospitals across the world.

Population growth is a difficult thing for sustainability wonks. We have kids, enjoy our families and certainly don’t deny the human desire for love and family; after all, those both contribute to personal happiness and well-being – two components for sustainability. However, population growth pushes our resources closer to the brink of extinction. There’s no easy answer here. Birth rates are declining in industrialized countries and population growth isn’t occurring at the overall rate it once was with women entering the workforce in many western nations and China enforcing population restrictions.

There’s no easy answer, and in fact the answer may be bittersweet. Of course we celebrate new life, new bundles of human joy. But with each new bundle we must consider the steps needed to protect the existing life that will sustain the new bundles.

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