World Population Growth—A Vital Issue
“BABY Five Billion.” That was what the government of China called Wang He, a baby girl born in a Beijing hospital at midnight, July 11, 1987. Whether that infant actually brought the total world population to 5,000,000,000 at the time, no one can tell. Nevertheless, she was born at the precise moment designated by the United Nations as when the world’s population would reach that figure. The Chinese government merely seized upon the event to dramatize the intense issue of population growth facing China and the world.
Statistics indicate that the number of people on earth is increasing at a rate that alarms some experts. At the present rate of growth, earth’s population will double in only about 40 years. At that pace, experts tell us, the amount of food needed to feed the world’s population will soon outstrip production, and the result will be world starvation. Furthermore, since the world’s supply of natural resources is finite, they will be exhausted that much sooner by an expanding population, and this can only mean earth-wide disaster. If the lack of food and resources does not spell our doom, the experts say, the environmental damage we are causing will most certainly do it. We are literally choking ourselves by what we are doing to the air, water, and land, and more people will only accelerate the pace. All of this sounds like a disaster in the making.
What, though, can be done about it? There are many schools of thought on the matter. Some feel that unless drastic action is taken to reduce population growth, the welfare of all humans will be threatened. Others believe that as was true in the past, new ways will be found to deal with the problems regarding food, resources, pollution, and whatever else is involved. Still others feel that the total population will eventually level off, so there is no need to be overly excited about it. In fact, there are strong opinions and views on just about every aspect of the subject. Clearly, world population growth is a controversial and vital issue.
What is noteworthy, however, is that the people living in lands that are still relatively spacious and affluent are generally the ones who are speaking out most forcefully about the coming doom. They are sounding the alarm because they sense that their standard of living or future well-being is threatened. But what about those living in the poorer, underdeveloped, and overpopulated lands? How do they feel about the population issue? What is life like in the congested corners of the world?
Awake! takes you to some of the most crowded places of the world to give you a firsthand glimpse of what it is like to live under the pressure of the population explosion and to help you understand some of the issues involved.