Population: Earth crosses the milestone of 8 billion inhabitants


PopulationEarth crosses the milestone of 8 billion inhabitants

Are there too many humans on this planet? This is the wrong question, according to many experts.

“Our impact on the planet is determined much more by our behavior than by our numbers,” says a researcher.


We will officially be 8 billion people on Earth on November 15, is that too much? Not necessarily, say the experts. Rather, they warn of the overconsumption of the planet’s resources by the richest part of humanity. “Eight billion is a major milestone for humanity,” notes the patron of the United Nations Population Fund, Natalia Kanem. She is delighted with the increase in life expectancy and the drop in infant and maternal mortality.

“However, I realize that this is not a moment necessarily celebrated by everyone. Some are worried about an overcrowded world, with far too many inhabitants and insufficient resources to live on,” she adds, calling for not being “afraid” of a number.

So, are there too many of us on this Earth? This is the wrong question, according to many experts. “Too much for whom? Too much for what? If you ask me if I’m too much, I don’t think so,” replies Joel Cohen, from Rockefeller University in New York. “I view the question of how many people the Earth can support as a two-sided question: natural constraints or limits, and choices made by humans.”


Choices that mean that we consume far more biological resources (forests, fish, land, etc.) than the Earth can regenerate each year and that this overconsumption, particularly of fossil fuels, leads to ever more CO2 emissions responsible for the Warming. In terms of resources, it would take 1.75 Earth to meet the needs of the population in a sustainable way, according to the NGOs Global Footprint Network and WWF.

On the climate side, the latest report by UN climate experts (IPCC) noted that population growth is indeed one of the major drivers of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, but less so than economic growth. “Often we are stupid. We lacked vision. We are gluttons. This is where the problem and the choices lie,” insists Joel Cohen, calling despite everything not to consider humanity as a “plague”.

Live like an indian

“Our impact on the planet is determined much more by our behavior than by our numbers,” adds Jennifer Sciubba, researcher in residence at the Wilson Center think tank. “It’s lazy and damaging to continue to highlight overcrowding,” she continues. It highlights the risk that rich countries, instead of changing their own behavior, will blame the problem on developing countries that are driving population growth.

Whereas if everyone lived like an inhabitant of India, humanity would only need 0.8 planets each year, compared to more than 5 planets for an inhabitant of the United States, according to the Global Footprint Network and WWF.

Too numerous or not, these 8 billion people are already there, and the population will continue to grow, with 9.7 billion projected in 2050 by the UN. The organization notes that because of the large number of young people, a very large part of this growth will take place even if the countries with the highest fertility fall today to two children per woman.


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