Five billion is an extraordinary figure. This was the approximate head count of our planet’s population in 1987. It is impossible to pinpoint when a critical mass of humans will leave us with no more breathing room.
In 1989, the United Nations established World Population Day, observed annually on July 11, to focus our attention on the issues that evolve as we continue to go forth and multiply. These complex problems are colored with hues of our cultural differences, our human rights, and our global politics.
Population education is the fundamental key to unlocking solutions to these difficult subjects. Developing nations cope with migration and urbanization, and larger countries devour natural resources to fuel their ever-growing economies.
One person transforms the world on a daily basis simply by living. Turning on the lights, enjoying a good breakfast and driving to work are all ordinary occurrences. However, multiply those activities by our current population of over 7 billion, and the transformations are staggering.
We must understand that population education is not just about population control. Instead, it is our chance to truly appreciate how ecology, economics and the human condition are all connected. The well-being of our planet depends on it.
World Population Day focuses our awareness on the core problems of our increasing numbers. Our impact on the environment and its limited resources is a fact. There is little argument over the long-term consequences.
Our conversations about overpopulation should not turn into debates over reproductive issues. The basic tenants of human rights are fragile concepts in developing countries, and women’s rights to choice are contentious in almost every nation. These are crucial matters, but they are part of the larger picture.
As our human footprint grows, so does our need for economic stability, food and shelter. Today we have an opportunity to seriously address our global impact with calm and reason. We all share this planet, and we all share its growing problems. This is a day to start sharing solutions with lasting purpose.