7 Billion People. Now What?

As of Monday, October 31, 2011, the world population officially reached 7 billion.  How appropriate that this milestone was reached on Halloween!

The statistic might not be so alarming if not for the fact that it took several million years for the population to reach one billion. It took just 123 years for the world to add the second billion. We’ve added the most recent billion in 12 years. And despite the fact that the world population rate has declined by half over the past 50 years, the world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050!

As the population grows, so will extreme poverty, food shortages and income inequality. So what can we do?

Ironically, those who are least able to afford it tend to have the most children. So the primary solution to our fast-growing population is to reduce poverty by investing in health and education. Second, we can promote women’s rights. As women gain knowledge and power, they tend to be less satisfied with being barefoot and pregnant. Obviously, we can promote family planning and the use of condoms. Finally, and perhaps most important, we can reject the idiocy of religions that disdain sex education and proven birth control methods for abstinance-only programs.

It may have made some sense for the Church to promote large families in the Middle Ages when infant death rates were high and large flocks of children were needed to help raise food. But that sort of primitive thinking is nothing less than global suicide in a world that has already over-exploited its natural resources.

Of course, any attempts to address over-population will be disdained by the simpletons who believe in the “rapture” or a heaven filled with virgins.  For them, the end of our planet can’t come soon enough.