The Protein Crunch

World Population Count

On 2 August 2011, in News, by Andrew Bennett

Monday, 11 June 2011 came and went for me without being much of an event. Nothing significant happened that I can recall.  Anything interesting your side? What about the other 6,9 billion people on earth? How many of us actually gave a second thought to the fact that it was World Population Day?

I started to unpack this a bit to get some perspective… My dad was born in 1940 and there were only about 2,3 billion people at that stage.  When I was born in 1970 we were about 3,7 billion people. It is anticipated that we will be more than 7 billion people on earth before the year is over.

World population has doubled in 40 years from 1959 (3 billion) to 1999 (6 billion).  It is anticipated that the world population will continue to grow into the 21st century, but at a slower rate compared to the recent past. The population clock on Worldometers provides world statistics updated in real time.

I had a look some other websites which confirmed that Africa currently has the highest population growth rate.  I wonder how will this impact on South Africa.

I’ve been reading a book by Jason Drew and Davied Lorimer called “The Protein Crunch” which focuses very much on the link between people and the food we need which in turn needs water, land and the sea. These natural resources have become critically degraded at a time when our expanding population needs them most. The only day in recent history the world’s population did not increase was the 26th December 2004, when

the Indian Ocean tsunami struck fourteen countries.

“Reality is that many of the countries with the fastest growing populations in the world also face the most difficult environmental challenges, such as rapid groundwater depletion and soil erosion.  As their governments struggle to deal with the seemingly irreconcilable problem of more people and fewer resources, they either ignore the issue or give up”, says Drew. “We have seen major economic migrations over the last few hundred years, but nothing will compare with the environmental migrations that will start in the coming decades.”

In 2011 the World’s population reaches 7 billion.  Over 1 billion of adults are illiterate – 66% of them are women.  In a world of 7 billion, educated women can make better choices about the size and health of their family. – UNFPA

Q: How does we deal with this mess?

A: I don’t think that there is any easy answer. It is not just about having kids (or not), but it is about using our resources in a responsible manner.  Simple things such as not wasting water, or eating less meat, or recycling, or switching off the light, or walking to the corner shop – all these actions impact on our resources and we need to use them with care.

So, when we hit the seven billion milestone later this year, remember that we only have one Mother Earth and we need to treat her with care.


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