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Seven billion and counting

by The Concordian November 8, 2011
Seven billion and counting
Seven billion human beings on this planet is certainly a milestone event. There are those who say there are very real and disastrous developments that can happen from this surge, while others say that such growth is completely natural and not a cause for concern. However, it is clear that the truth of the matter cannot be simplified through positive or negative false generalizations.
One must take into consideration the negative environmental implications of unchecked population growth.
This is well-documented by Dr. Jochen Jaeger of Concordia’s department of geography, planning and environment in an article he co-wrote for the journal Ecological Indicators.
Jaeger pointed out some of his collaborated studies in which he outlines the hazards of unchecked urban development. Urban sprawl occurs due to the ever increasing demands of people for cheap housing and open areas. This has led to increasing fragmentation of wildlife areas, which outline the environmental hazards.
It is necessary to understand what results from human growth in order to seek to rectify any negative outcomes that may arise.
Hans Rosling, a well-known Swedish doctor, professor and statistician, offers a rather interesting solution: population growth can be stabilized if measures against global poverty are taken. Rosling singled out a trend that showed that an increase in child survival rates and quality of life results in family planning and smaller families.
It is quite paradoxical to say that in order to check population growth, measures must be taken to improve infant mortality and the general quality of life. However, the statistical evidence presented by Rosling is quite clear. There still remains an issue of efficiency and the innovation required to achieve it. One must still take into consideration the amount of resources needed to raise the living standards of such a huge number of people while stabilizing output.
Matt Ridley, an English journalist and writer, gave a TED talk entitled “When Ideas Have Sex.” He offers a solution to this dilemma. The accumulation of knowledge within the human species has led to exponential innovative capabilities. The rate of innovation has thus accelerated, through such methods as outsourcing and different groups of people intermingling through trade. Products and services once thought to belong solely to elites continue to become available to the majority of humankind. Ridley notes how the phenomenon of hundreds of servants being involved in their dressing and feeding is not so different than what most of humanity experiences in some form or another on a regular basis. It has taken a lot less resources to raise the quality of life, due to innovation in its numerous forms. This will only grow through the continued intermingling of peoples throughout the world, thus allowing for ways to be found in which the general quality of life will grow and the population will stabilize.
This new milestone in the growth of humankind should be given the proper perspective it deserves. There will not be a global disaster in which humankind grows to a point in which it destroys itself and the planet. The trends elaborated upon by Rosling and Ridley reject this scenario.
This does not mean we, as a species, must meet this development with complacency towards human suffering and environmental damage. We must use this opportunity to speed up the process of bettering the lives of those less fortunate among us, as well as protect the environment from irreparable damage. By doing so, we will celebrate the seven billion mark instead of turning it into yet another cold statistic.

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