Population Matters

7 Billion: the Comic

October 26th, 2011

On October 31st, Halloween, the world’s population will reach 7 billion people. In the coming week there will be an onslaught of stories in the news around the world that will range from “the end is nigh” to “here’s to 7 billion more” and everything in between. With so many stories to read saying so many different things it may be hard to get a clear grasp on what 7 billion really means and why you should care.

Luckily Grist, the popular on-line environmental magazine, has found a fun and informative way to break down what 7 billion really means without being overly simplistic. “7 Billion, Unpacked—A Comic”  does a masterful job of laying out why the 7 billion milestone is important and what needs to be done. By focusing on both the population growth expected in the developing world and the much larger impact of population growth in the developed world, the Grist comic talks about population and consumption in a balanced and insightful way.

While recognizing the challenge posed by population growth, it focuses primarily on the successes of the past and the benefits of continuing to expand family planning options for women.  It notes that fertility rates fell from 5 children per woman in 1950 to 2.5 per woman today because of the smart investments that were made in girls’ education, family planning, reproductive health care, and the economic empowerment of women.

The comic notes that birth rates will continue to fall if we make the right investments. First, we must make sure that the 215 million women in the developing world who don’t want to get pregnant—and who are not using a modern method of birth control—get the family planning services and information they need.  Second we must work to reduce unintended pregnancies in the U.S., where nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended.  The comic says we can so by reducing the price of prescription birth control and providing comprehensive sex education, rather than abstinence-only instruction. If we make these investments we will produce smaller and healthier families…and help to save the planet at the same time.

Best of all, the comic tells the reader what he or she can do:

  1. Push your leaders to support family planning and abroad. (You can start by signing our Million for a Billion petition to tell Congress and world leaders to boost support for international family planning.)
  2. Be conscientious in deciding how many kids to have—no decision you’ll ever make has larger environmental implications.
  3. Don’t pressure other people to have kids. Give everyone the space to decide what is right for them.
  4. Push for better sex education in schools, and be frank with teens about sex and birth control.
  5. Don’t be afraid to talk about population. It’s time to bust through that taboo. (One place to do that is Population 7 Billion, It’s Time to Talk.)

So check out the great comic and then take action!

Posted by Jennie Wetter, Program Manager

2 Responses to “7 Billion: the Comic”

  1. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    How can large numbers of human beings with feet of clay not see that the Earth is being overpopulated by the human species? Humanity appears to be on the verge of precipitating some sort of unimaginable global ecological wreckage. Scientists readily located virtually everywhere on the surface of Earth in our time have unaccepted responsibilities to assume and unfulfilled duties to perform by speaking out loudly and clearly about whatsoever is believed to be true with regard to the incredible human-driven planetary emergency that looms so ominously in the offing. Can it be that ideological idiocy and outrageous greed of a tiny minority of self-proclaimed masters of the universe will be permitted to rule the world and bring about its ruin on our watch?

  2. Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Petition Presentation, Town of Chapel Hill, NC, November 21, 2011.

    Opening remarks…….

    In Chapel Hill and around the world, it is all the same: many too many people can be found in too many places destroying the natural world for personal economic gain. Many human-induced pressures on Earth’s finite resources and its frangible ecology, that directly result from the unbridled global growth of overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities by the human species, put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future for children, not only in Chapel Hill but elsewhere on the surface of our planetary home. If we are to halt the reckless destruction of Earth as a viable resource base as well as the irreversible degradation of an already polluted environment and a warming climate, we must accept limits to growth.

    We must start somewhere soon to chart a sustainable course. Endless economic and population growth appear to be unsustainable. Let us consider now and here ways we can humanely, fairly, equitably and realistically define limits to economic and population growth in Chapel Hill, while there is still time to do so. Once the comfortable and friendly size of Chapel Hill is lost due to economic and population growth pressures, Chapel Hill’s quality of life and special characteristics will be impossible to regain.

    Perhaps we can “think globally” about the predicament seven billion human beings present to the viability of Earth as a fit place for human habitation. Then we choose to”act locally” in ways that move us in the direction of a sustainable future for children everywhere and for life as we know it. Thank you.


    A Petition to Define Limits to Economic and Population Growth in the Town of Chapel Hill, NC

    Whereas the Town of Chapel Hill appears to be outgrowing the comfortable and friendly size that has made it a wonderful place to live, raise children, work and retire; and
    Whereas increasing traffic congestion, crime and other social ills are presenting worrisome trends that result from human population growth which will eventually degrade Chapel Hill’s eco-friendly environs, deplete its limited natural resources and conceivably ruin what makes our town beautiful and special; and
    Whereas the Town of Chapel Hill has established limits and the Great State of North Carolina has boundary lines that separate it from adjacent states; and
    Whereas the USA has borders that confirm the limits of authorized human activity under its regulations and laws as well as distinguish itself as a separate nation; and
    Whereas Earth is round, bounded and finite with frangible environs not flat, unbounded and unperturbed by human production, consumption and population activities of the human species worldwide; and
    Whereas there are well-known biological and physical “rules of the house” in our planetary home that are categorically different from the manmade laws which regulate day to day production, consumption and population activities of human species, but are no less important to citizens of Chapel Hill, the State of NC and the USA as well as to the global citizenry of the human family, precisely because the biophysical reality of God’s Creation places immutable limits on the unbridled global growth of human overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities; and
    Whereas a billion human beings were added to family of humanity worldwide in the last dozen years (1999 to 2011); and
    Whereas in the month of October 2011 the seven billionth human being joined the human community; and
    Whereas there are more human beings in November 2011 existing on resources valued at less than two dollars per day globally than were alive on Earth in the year of my birth (2.3+ billion in March 1945); and
    Whereas we have heard many times, understood well enough, and can reasonably be expected to at least consider acting in a morally responsible way upon a shibboleth of humanity that goes like this, “Think globally, act locally,”

    Now, Therefore, It appears appropriate to Propose and Present this brief Summary of a Program for Action.

    As a part of the town-wide envisioning process to consciously and deliberately manage economic and population growth in the Town of Chapel Hill between now and 2020, leaders, planners and stakeholders will assure that the maintenance of the unique character and the quality of life in Chapel Hill, as we enjoy it now, is protected and preserved for the children and future generations. To accomplish this goal, various scenarios or different elements of a single scenario will be developed with the hope that the following steps will be examined for their efficacy.

    Because overpopulation is ultimately a local issue, set an optimum/maximum population size for the Town of Chapel Hill in 2020. This goal can be fulfilled by adopting growth-management policies related to limits on the number of new residential dwelling units and to additional eco-friendly curbs on commercial developments per year between now and 2020. Zoning regulations can be promulgated to further restrict the size of residential, commercial and industrial buildings within the town limits. The reality-oriented adoption of “soft caps” on economic and population growth will make it possible for the Town of Chapel Hill to sensibly acknowledge and adequately address the considerable and potentially unsustainable growth pressures that are readily visible on our watch.

    Steven Earl Salmony

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