No wonder places seem so crowded these days: The world's population reached 8 billion Tuesday.
I remember when 3 billion was considered too many.
Although population growth has slowed somewhat in recent years, the number of people consuming the earth's finite resources will hit 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in the 2080s, according to the United Nations.
Growth has stalled in the industrialized world, which bears the most responsibility for climate change as carbon emissions keep rising. The populations of Japan, China and European nations are aging. The U.S. population has also stalled.
Developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Mideast are experiencing huge population increases, as their resources disappear. Non-industrial nations are suffering the most from climate change, although they've registered the least amount of carbon emissions. Industrial nations at the recent climate change conference in Egypt pledged to contribute billions to those countries, but even greater aid will be needed.
Getting past the gloomy forecasts for the future, those children being born at a rapid pace offer hope for humanity. The laws of probability suggest that generations to come will include geniuses who will develop technological solutions to the earth's problems. Our future descendants will invent now un-imagined wonders, discover cures for diseases, create new works of art.
On the other hand, perhaps humanity will die like the dinosaurs, and a new cycle of life begin. Or the Earth will turn into a lifeless rock spinning around a dying sun. Humanity might say goodbye to our ancient home and find a new beginning far far away in the universe.
For now, I need to buy some batteries for the TV remote.
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