We Are Now 8 Billion Strong !

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Credit: CNN
  • The UN says the world’s population has hit eight billion.
  • It is just 11 years after passing the seven-billion milestone.
  • After a big surge in the middle of the 20th Century, population growth is already slowing down.

It could take 15 years to reach nine billion and the UN doesn’t expect to reach 10 billion until 2080. It’s hard to calculate the number of people in the world accurately, and the UN admits its sums could be out by a year or two.

They Have Been Chosen!

In previous years, the UN has selected babies to represent the five, six and seven-billionth children – so what can their stories tell us about world population growth? A few minutes after he was born in July 1987, Matej Gaspar had a flashing camera in his tiny face and a gaggle of besuited politicians surrounding his exhausted mother. Stuck at the back of a motorcade outside, British UN official Alex Marshall felt partially responsible for the momentary chaos he had brought upon this tiny maternity unit in the suburbs of Zagreb.

“We basically looked at the projections and dreamed up this idea that the world population would pass five billion in 1987,” he says. “And the statistical date was 11 July.” They decided to christen the world’s five-billionth baby. Thirty-five years later the world’s five-billionth baby is trying to forget his ceremonious entry into the world. His Facebook page suggests he’s living in Zagreb, happily married and working as a chemical engineer. 

Since then, three billion more people have been added to our global community. Just outside Dhaka in Bangladesh, Sadia Sultana Oishee is helping her mum, peeling potatoes for dinner. She’s 11 and would rather be outside playing football but her parents run a pretty tight ship. Oishee is the youngest and the family’s lucky charm. Born in 2011, she was named one of the world’s seven-billionth babies. Oishee arrived at one minute past midnight, surrounded by TV crews and local officials craning over each other to see her. The family were stunned but delighted. While her father had hoped for a boy, he’s now happy with his three hard-working, intelligent daughters. 

Since Oishee was born, another 17 million people have been added to Bangladesh’s growing population.

Shifting Balance

Demographers were shocked when the number of children born per woman in South Korea dropped to an average of 0.81, Samir KC says. “So, how low will it go? This is the big question for us.”

While half of the next billion people will come from only eight countries – most of them in Africa – in most countries the fertility rate will be lower than 2.1 children per woman, the number necessary to sustain a population. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the most rapidly declining populations in the world, 23-year-old Adnan Mevic thinks about this a lot. He has a masters in economics and is looking for a job. If he can’t find one he’ll move to the EU. Like many parts of Eastern Europe, his country has been hit with the double-whammy of low fertility and high emigration.

Adnan lives outside Sarajevo with his mum, Fatima, who has surreal memories of his birth. “I realized something was unusual because doctors and nurses were gathering around but I couldn’t tell what was happening,” Fatima says. When Adnan arrived, the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was there to christen him the world’s six-billionth baby. “I was so tired, I don’t know how I felt,” Fatima recalls, laughing.

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Source: BBC

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