At the Brink of 8 billion: How Humanity Faces its Biggest Test Yet

December 30, 2023
2 mins read
Global Population
Global Population

Food, clothing, and shelter are the basic needs of humanity. But at the start of 2024, 4.3 births and 2 deaths are expected worldwide every second, according to the US Census Bureau figures, the balance of births and deaths is lost. Hence the world population of 8 billion on Jan 1, 2024, will be a great burden to meet the basic needs of mankind. According to figures released by the US Census Bureau, Thursday, the world population grew by 75 million people over the past year and it will stand at more than 8 billion people. The worldwide growth rate in the past year was just under 1%.

The growth rate for the US in the past year was 0.53%, about half the worldwide figure. The US added 1.7 million people and will have a population on New Year’s Day of 335.8 million people. If the current pace continues through the end of the decade, the 2020s could be the slowest-growing decade in US history, yielding a growth rate less than 4% over the 10-year period from 2020 to 2030, according to William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. The slowest-growing decade currently was in the aftermath of the Great Depression in the 1930s, when the growth rate was 7.3%.

At the start of 2024, the US is expected to experience one birth every nine seconds and one death every 9.5 seconds. India’s population figures are not available, as no decennial Census was carried out due to pandemic and other reasons. But unofficially the population of India is more than 1400 million. So to feed, clothe, and shelter more than 8 billion people, it is a huge task.

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Already California is recycling drainage water to get enough drinking water for its citizens. In India, water scarcity is so acute in Aghanwadi, a village 120 km away from Mumbai, that women from the hamlet have been queuing up every night since the beginning of December, as the stream runs dry by noon. It takes two hours to fill 3 pots of water from this source in the jungle. Women make their way through the jungle for potable water, aided by torch light. The spot is a kilometre away from their homes. If this is the condition in winter, what will happen in summer can only be imagined! The Maharashtra Government had floated the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ (water for every home) mission in 2021, with a deadline of 2022. However, the work on the project started 2 days ago.

This is just one example of how difficult it will be to feed, clothe, and shelter 8 billion people in the days to come. But at least in 40 countries including India and the US, general elections are going to be held in 2024. Therefore one need not expect any solution from politicians. It is the turn of a common man to think about the problem of population growth and its solution. Let us arise, awake, and stop not till the goal of feeding, clothing, and sheltering billions of people is attained!

Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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