Earth’s population? 7 billion by the end of the year

Before the end of 2011, there will be 7 billion people on the planet, and by 2045, there could be 9 billion. To give you an idea of how growth has accelerated, consider this: In 1830, there were only about 1 billion people on the planet, and the number didn’t reach 2 billion until about 1930.

Are you worried? Don’t answer yet. Instead, spend some time online with National Geographic. Throughout the course of this year, the magazine is offering several articles to examine the implications of having 7 billion of us sharing the planet. You can start with the first article, and accompanying information, here.

One major observation of the series is this:

“The number of people does matter, of course. But how people consume resources matters a lot more. Some of us leave much bigger footprints than others. The central challenge for the future of people and the planet is how to raise more of us out of poverty—the slum dwellers in Delhi, the subsistence farmers in Rwanda—while reducing the impact each of us has on the planet.”

That’s a tall order; let’s hope we’re up to it. Do you think we are? Spend some time with the National Geographic articles, and let me know what you think.

If you can’t see the video above, click here.

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