Today There are 8 Billion Inhabitants of this Disparate World

Today There are 8 Billion Inhabitants of this Disparate World
Fecha de publicación: 
17 November 2022
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This November 15 will be taken as an important reference when demographers begin to do their math and reflect.

It happens that it was chosen by the UN as the symbolic date on which humanity reaches the gigantic figure of 8 billion people cheering on our injured planet Earth.

And the adjective injured occupies its place on the page in capital letters, because, in addition to the damage caused by climate change, also inequalities, wars, various attempts to dominate the powerful over those who have little – either at the level of nations and of individuals-, have these 8 billion people today as far as possible from an equitably prosperous and happy humanity.

It needs to be said, although the UN itself considers this unprecedented population growth a milestone in human development, which it attributes to the gradual increase in life expectancy from improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene, and medicine, as well as to high and persistent levels of fertility.

The Secretary General of that international organization commented on this demographic event that "It’s an occasion to promote diversity and progress, taking into account the shared responsibility of humanity towards the planet."

The ignored ones, as Eduardo Galeano called them, perhaps would say it otherwise. The Uruguayan writer himself also said it differently, back in the 70s, but it’s as if he had commented it just yesterday: “Even if the statistics smile upon us, people get screwed. In systems organized backwards, when the economy grows, social injustice also grows with it”.

And yes, the countries with the highest fertility statistics are precisely those with the lowest per capita income. In general, population growth is now concentrated in the poorest countries, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa.

So it’s some sort of paradox to ensure that this "milestone in human development" is due to improvements in public health, nutrition, hygiene and so on; when, precisely, in the most impoverished nations is where these indicators are closer to the verge of tears.

And also as a paradox of this crowded world today, it’s worth mentioning that it’s not the countries with the highest population growth that cause the most damage to the environment, but rather the more developed ones, where fewer people are concentrated.

As a trend, not as a generality, a decrease in extreme poverty and also in income inequality between countries has been recorded worldwide in the last 25 years; but, at the same time, the famines continue –just a quick peek at the region of the African Horn-, also the huge conflicts with access to water, sanitation, basic health services, a life in peace, the 100 million forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflicts of various kinds, but especially wars, could speak about this.

Out of the 8 billion inhabitants living in the world today, 662 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean, 8.2% of the total. This geographical area has gone from high levels of mortality and fertility that marked the 50s, to low levels in both variables as indicated by current statistics.

This part of the world has been where life expectancy at birth has decreased the most. Between 2019 and 2021, dropped 2.9 years of that life expectancy, due to "vulnerabilities and difficulties in managing the health and economic crises resulting from the pandemic," indicates ECLAC, specifying that such a loss implies an 18-year setback in that indicator and a significant reduction in population growth in these two years.

Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic reversed decades of progress, "triggering unprecedented increases in mortality that resulted in losses in life expectancy worldwide, with only a few exceptions," assured the study of scholars Changes in life expectancy since COVID-19, published last October in the scientific journal Nature Human Behavior.

With no Crystal Ball

It’s predicted, based on scientific estimates and certainly not predictions announced in a crystal ball, that the world population could increase to 8.5 billion in 2030, to 9.7 billion in 2050 and up to 10.4 billion in 2100.

In particular, the UN points out that there will be a large demographic increase in developing countries and more than half of the estimated population increase by 2050 is projected to be concentrated in just eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Currently, half of the population is spread over just 7 countries: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Brazil.

This forecast curve includes India surpassing China as the most populous country on the planet by 2023.

Other projections, however, estimate that the maximum point of population growth will be reached in 2064 with some 9,700 million inhabitants, and, from that moment on, a decrease could be seen that would materialize by year 2100 at 8,800 million.

Even though it’s somewhat imprecise to ensure that the 8 billionth inhabitant of Earth was born exactly today, the date has been chosen symbolically, and to continue navigating the river of symbols, it would be an interesting exercise to imagine where that baby was born, that perhaps right now he is breathing his first breath of oxygen: whether in a germ-free and well-equipped delivery room, welcomed warmly; or under the gloomy hum of bullets or missiles, between fright and tenderness, as the poet would say.

This, undoubtedly, would speak of symbolic differences and beyond.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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