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World population hits 7 billion, but there are easy ways to curb growth

Water, food, and resource shortages, environmental degradation, poverty – population growth is endangering people and planet alike. By 2050 we'll need two planets just to contain us. The good news: Population growth does not have to rise as fast as projected.

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The United Nations reports that world population today will reach the 7 billion mark just 12 years after the 6 billion level was crossed. And if UN projections prove correct, world population will reach 8 billion in just 13 years and 9.3 billion by mid-century.

The big question is whether humanity is getting too big and, in the process, endangering the well-being of people, posterity, and the planet. The Global Footprint Network warns that humanity is already living beyond the Earth’s capacity to regenerate resources, and that by 2050 we will need two planets to keep pace with population and rising consumption. The good news, however, is that, if we take the right steps, population growth does not have to rise as fast as currently projected.

Curbing population growth must be an urgent priority for all nations. Indeed, there’s ample evidence to suggest that humanity is already putting too much stress on the world’s environment. Rising temperatures and the increasing frequency of severe weather suggest that we may be altering the Earth’s climate. Add to that the depletion of ocean fisheries, the steady lowering of water levels, desertification, and the rapid rate of species extinction, and it’s obvious that we are flirting with environmental disaster.

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