Eight billion people on Planet Earth

According to UN estimates, the global population surpassed the eight-billion mark on 15 November. Increased life expectancy as well as sustained high birth rates in some regions of the world are the reasons. Can the planet cope?

Open/close all quotes
Irish Examiner (IE) /

Population explosion worsening climate crisis

More should be done to stop population growth in many regions of the world, columnist John Vidal urges in the Irish Examiner:

“Despite the fact the several billion more people expected to be alive in 70 years' time will put more pressure on resources and will produce far more emissions, the population explosion is yet again being ignored, sidestepped or denied by world leaders. ... Of course, the rich must change their behaviour. But making climate breakdown all about consumption has become an excuse for countries to do nowhere near enough to reduce their populations.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Hunger the result of unfair distribution

The planet could feed twelve billion people, Jutarnji list argues:

“We are consuming resources faster than we are renewing them. But that's not the reason why 800 million out of eight billion people are going hungry (while around 13 percent suffer from obesity). We produce enough food for twelve billion. It's not production that's the problem, it's distribution - as is generally the case under capitalism. These people aren't starving because there isn't enough food, but because they're too poor to purchase it. Or to buy seeds. Or to irrigate in places where it no longer rains. And we are dying because we overeat to the point where we get diabetes and arteriosclerosis.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Every new citizen is welcome

The population increase is not a problem in itself, stresses Die Presse:

“An energy supply based on sustainable and renewable solutions is entirely possible. Many of the technologies needed for this are already available, others will come of age in the next years and decades. ... Of course, the challenge this transition poses is enormous. But if it can be achieved in Europe and North America, it can also be achieved in the fast-growing countries of Asia and Africa. So in the medium term the real problem is more likely to be more and more ageing societies. Consequently, we should rejoice that we can now welcome an eight billionth citizen of the earth.”

Pravda (SK) /

Overpopulation a threat at the regional level

Although one can no longer talk of a global population explosion, Pravda still sees cause for concern:

“While in 1950 the average was five children per woman worldwide, in 1995 it was three children and today it is about 2.3 children. According to estimates, by 2050 it will be just 2.1 children. ... Although there is no danger of overpopulation at the global level, it is still questionable whether our planet can support the growing number of people on it, because the danger of overpopulation at the regional level remains. Africa, for example, is the only continent where the number of people will continue to grow.”