As the 7 billionth human being is born, one problem, says Michael Buerk, underpins nearly all others in the world, but it’s the one we don’t talk about: ‘There are too many of us’.

[Image Courtesy of Bindaas Madhavi via Flickr.com ©©]

On the last day of October, we’re told, a baby girl born somewhere in India became the seven billionth living human on the planet. It’s nonsense, of course. The statistical error in global population estimates is plus or minus 50 million. It might just as easily be a baby boy in Luton or Lapland next February. Or even the son of a Palestinian carpenter hiding from the authorities in Bethlehem on Christmas Day.

Nonetheless it is a significant landmark on the road to demographic disaster; the problem that underpins nearly all the others. You know, the one we don’t talk about.

There are too many of us.

It’s strange that we think it almost immoral not to accept the idea of man-made and detrimental climate change without conclusive evidence - just the balance of scientific probability.

Yet the exponential growth of the human population, a fact we can all see for ourselves, that is already making life uncomfortable and threatens to make it impossible, seems not up for discussion.

The population deniers tend to regard the whole issue as bad taste, a kind of disguised racism. Anyway, they say, it’s not a problem. The global population will level off soon- in half the world it already has- food production will always keep up. As to other resources, the issue is consumption – not numbers. As if there were no connection between the two.

Come with me to the pullulating slums of Dhaka, to Mexico city, where whole towns live on the rubbish dumps, to the Cities of the Dead in Egypt – almost as many people camp in Cairo’s cemeteries as the whole of London.

Fly almost anywhere at night and see the orange glow of our metastasising cities, try to get in from Heathrow in the Monday morning rush hour…and tell me there is no problem.

Latest comments

Leave a comment

  • Very interesting initiative, I discovered your site Through “whattsupwiththat.com” and really good jornalists.
    By the way I ‘m not a malthusian (a theory that was proven wrong many in the past (…up to now)
    If you are really seriuos about this issue I suggest to start a sort of informal comittee among your readers, e.g. to collect more precise and localised data llke: -what tipe of food is above or below necessity and where – possible actions like -stop modern fishing in poor country waters (keep in mind that in south Italy many many fishermen sell first quality fish to japanise that pay good money with no taxes, of course fishermen get also money from the EU because there is no fish…)
    In emergency I could tolerate measures like voluntary sterilization or incentives to limit cildren. It should be also worth to understand why people procreate a lot. Happy 2012 and good luck, Marcello

  • Spot on, the population growth figures are staggering. No problem if you can feed yourself, educate your children, look after your children. Big problem if you cannot. We build pipeline across continents to moc=ve crude, but we do not do so to move water, no money in it. We send satelites off to Pluto and tiny frozen moons, why? wehen we are unable to look after our elderly, no money in it. It is not just about money, it is also political will, In the UK the Gov’t spend 50p in every pound which they have teken off us in the first place, why what ggo do they do with it.
    Population inflation will ned like all inflations, with a bust. (fact)

  • I feel this is among the such a lot important info for me. And i’m satisfied reading your article. But wanna statement on some normal things, The website style is wonderful, the articles is truly nice :D. Good activity, cheers.

  • Over population is a myth. This link explains it well I think, please watch. http://youtu.be/iodJ0OOdgRg

    We should not accept oppression or sterilization of any population.

  • Great to see Michael Buerk making a comeback here!

Sorry, this post is closed for comments