According to the United Nations, global population is likely to exceed 10 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by the end of the century. As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said, “As the world population edged to seven billion people in 2011 — up from 2.5 billion in 1950 — it had profound implications for development.” Yet world leaders continue to focus their efforts on finding solutions to the problems caused by population growth rather than working to halt the growth itself.
Some 220 million women worldwide still lack access to family planning. Millions of children receive no education about family planning. And approximately 15 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18 every year.
Our leaders in government must stop pretending that our increasing population isn’t a problem. They need to set national goals of stabilizing and then reducing population numbers to sutainable levels by noncoercive means. And our leaders must give top priority to providing family planning and women’s education and empowerment programmes when creating development aid budgets.
There are those who say that we shouldn’t worry — Mother Nature or God will take care of the problem; population will peak eventually; on a finite planet, our numbers cannot grow indefinitely, and so on. But if we don’t take action now, the “solutions” will be famine, disease and resource-related war. Is that the legacy we want to leave to our children?
As our population grows, the population and diversity of fauna and flora decreases. The Living Planet Report recently issued by the World Wildlife Fund indicates that populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by 52 per cent since 1970. Reservoirs are drying up, forests are being destroyed and climate change is already having a devastating effect in parts of the world.
There are many ways in which individuals can help to address population growth and thus the numerous problems stemming from it. We urge you to do so — not only our own future but that of every other species on Earth is at stake.