World population reaches 8 billion, raises environmental concerns

Reaching a population of 8 billion people represents a success story for humanity, but it also raises concerns about population growth, poverty, and climate change (Image courtesy/Getty Images).

The United Nations says the population for the whole world is reaching 8 billion on Tuesday, showing how major improvements in public health have lowered the risk of dying and increased human life expectancy.

Reaching a population of 8 billion people represents a success story for humanity, but it also raises concerns about population growth, poverty, and climate change.

Rapid population growth makes it more difficult to eradicate poverty, combat hunger and malnutrition, and improve health and education systems.

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Population growth has become increasingly concentrated among the world’s poorest countries with much of the growth expected between now and 2050 coming from just eight countries.

Half of those countries are in sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria, Congo, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

The U.N. says that populations in the region are growing at 2.5 per cent, more than three times the global average.

“We cannot rely on one-size-fits-all solutions in a world in which the median age is 41 in Europe compared to 17 in sub-Saharan Africa,” UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem said. “To succeed, all population policies must have reproductive rights at their core, invest in people and planet, and be based on solid data.”

Slower population growth could help to mitigate environmental degradation.

But, with the majority of the world’s population growth concentrated among the poorest countries, there can not be correlation between population growth and the rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

The poorer countries have significantly lower emissions rates and are likely to suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change.

Still, experts say the bigger threat to the environment is consumption, which is highest in developed countries not undergoing big population increases.

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The UN has released 17 Sustainable Development Goals to reach in order to maintain a world where all people can thrive.

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

  • No poverty
  • zero hunger
  • Good health and well-being
  • Quality education
  • Gender equality
  • Clean water and sanitization
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
  • Reduced inequalities
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
  • Life on land
  • Peace, justice, and strong institutions
  • Partnership for the goals

“Unless we bridge the yawning chasm between the global haves and have-nots, we are setting ourselves up for an 8-billion-strong world filled with tensions and mistrust, crisis and conflict,” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said.

The report also said that India is expected to overtake China next year as the world’s most populous country.