Five billion is an extraordinary figure. Put a face on every one of those numbers, and you have an approximate head count of our planet’s population in 1987. It’s 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 to focus attention on the issues that evolve as we continue to go forth and multiply. These complex problems are colored with hues of cultural differences, human rights and 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 ever-growing economies.
One person transforms the world on a daily basis simply by living. Turning on lights, enjoying a good breakfast and driving to work are ordinary occurrences. Multiply those activities by our current population of over 7 billion, and the transformations are staggering.
We must understand that population education isn’t just about population control. Instead, it’s 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.
Conversations about overpopulation shouldn’t 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’re part of the larger picture. As our human footprint grows, so does our need for food, shelter and economic stability. On this day, we have an opportunity to address our global impact with calm and reason.
We share this planet, and we share its growing problems. This is a day to start sharing solutions with lasting purpose.