We are living in an era experiencing huge population growth. Currently, the world’s population is growing by a huge 200,000 people a day, with these numbers almost certain to continue to rise for several decades.
The latest UN predictions estimate the world’s total population has risen to 7 billion this October.
This has been driven by an increasing number of people in their reproductive years, the mortality rate of children in the developing world decreasing due to slight improvements in health and sanitation as well as trends of ageing populations across the developed world.
However, much of the increase will be driven by developing countries in the global south.
Concerns of such rapid population increase could hamper economic growth and condemn future generations to continual poverty. The challenge is to make sure children are well fed and nourished and well educated so that they can be of benefit to these nations in the future rather than a potential burden.
It is easy to see why populations within these countries are so rapidly expanding, as Women in Zambia for example have on average 6 children.
Therefore, across developing countries life is becoming increasingly harder. In India for example prices for almost all commodities and essentials are soaring, so it is becoming harder to survive and many are becoming increasingly poorer. The question that India is asking itself is, will it be able to feed its 1.2 billion people?
Every additional person needs food, water and energy, and produces more waste and pollution, so intensifies our impact on the planet.
In Jordan, water shortages are ravaging through the nation. People are paying double for water than what they were a year ago, and the scarcity is worsening due to riding populations.
Since we passed one billion in 1800, our rising numbers and consumption have already caused climate change, rising sea levels, expanding deserts and the "sixth extinction" of wildlife. Our growth has been largely caused by rapidly depleting natural capital (fossil fuels, minerals, groundwater, soil fertility, forests, fisheries and biodiversity) rather than sustainable natural income.
Some argue that our self-indulgent lifestyles are grossly unbalanced in the West, and must become much more modest. Each additional Briton has the carbon footprint of 22 more Malawians.
Last year, although enough food was produced to satisfy the world's needs, at least one billion people went hungry, according to UN estimates.
The same number lacked access to clean water and more than 2.6 billion people still have no adequate sanitation.
So the question has been raised, is the Western world failing these children?
Hundreds of millions of women around the world, but mainly in developing countries, have families bigger than they wish, because they are being denied the ability to control their own reproductive health.
Thus as our population rises at the same time as the number of people Earth can sustain shrinks, while spreading industrialisation and western consumption patterns will only continue to accelerate this process. The poor should get richer; but high birth rates, compounded by resource depletion and environmental degradation actively hinder development.
The day of the 7 billion should motivate us to face and address the risks of continued population growth.
Simultaneously, we need a swift transformation of energy, water, and materials consumption through conservation, efficiency, and green technologies.