8 Billion People – What Now?

People walking a long a busy street

Photo by un.org

People walking a long a busy street

A map showing how population is distributed throughout the world. Photo Credit: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-world-population-just-hit-8-billion-and-heres-how-it-will-continue-to-grow/

Does it feel like there is more and more traffic as you drive to school everyday? Well, this could be due to the growing population rate in the world. On November 15th, 2022 the world population reached 8 billion according to the UN. Currently China is the most populous country in the world but India is projected to take the spot by the end of 2023. This information was released on world population day. It is also said that the population could reach 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 in 2050. The majority of our population growth comes from countries living below the poverty line (about 70 percent). Worldwide fertility has also dropped greatly in wealthier countries. Overall, it took the world about 11 years to increase population by 1 billion, and experts are continuing to say that we will continue to have a slower growth rate. It is said that it will take 22 years to reach 10 billion people from where we are right now. There is no decline in population expected in our lifetime. 

It is impossible to know the exact number of people on the earth, but the UN declared November 15 “Day of 8 Billion.” Patrick Gerald, who is the lead of population demographics at the UN says, “It is a crude approximation that is more of a symbolic finding.” This means that the population number is more of an educated guess, rather than an exact finding. Despite this, they decided to mark November 15th as the official day that we reached 8 billion people.

With this growth, there is potential for greater environmental impact. Higher fuel consumption is possible, which in return contributes to global warming. This also potentially means that deforestation will increase in order to supply more people with materials. However, according to the New York Times, slower population growth can also slow environmental damage, but with a larger population there will still be less supplies to go around. We also face the threat of running out of space. Lastly, the carbon emissions that come from the richest 63 million people in the world (about 1% of the population) is double the amount of carbon emissions as half of the rest of the population put together. 

I interviewed senior Ben Le on the subject, and here is what he had to say. First, when asked if he knew the population had hit 8 billion, he stated that he did not. “I think we are overpopulated,” he voiced when asked about his own thoughts and feelings. He went on to say that he thinks it won’t have a big impact on us yet, but that too many people are bad for the environment.

Overall, the worlds’ population is growing, and can have an affect on the whole planet in ways we may not realize.