Sticky post 7 Billion and Counting

Sometime this year, some mother will give birth to a new child and the number of inhabitants sharing our planet will exceed 7 billion. This begs the question — “How many earthlings can spaceship earth accommodate?” Is there a tipping point when the “have nots” decide that they are not going to accept living in dire poverty anymore? And if that happens, what would the future of mankind look like? I suspect in a word, bleak. But before we become snared in doomsday predictions, a quick review of the cold, hard facts:

Currently, over half of the world’s population live on less than $2.50 a day. 80% actually try to live on less than $10.00 a day. The poorest 40% of the world’s population possess 5% of global revenue. The richest 20% account for 75% of the world’s income.

Currently, 1/2 of the children in the world live in abject poverty. Crime, brutality and desperation are daily companions in their dark world of neglect and struggle.Currently, roughly 1/2 of the world’s total population live in cities. Think sprawling slums in Mexico City or India. The other one half doesn’t fare much better. In fact, 75% of those living in the rural areas of the world exist on less than $1.00 a day. In Oklahoma City, $1.00 will hardy buy a pack of chewing gum.

Those are grim and startling statistics. Especially for those of us who can’t wait to exchange our “old” 3G cell phones for the just released 4G models. Recently my daughter had her 4G stolen and is having to use her older phone. Cost to replace what was stolen? I think she said about $600. I once met a lady in Kenya who walked 5 miles a day to and from a well to retrieve water for her family. And she made the trek everyday of her life, just for water. Possessing the latest anything didn’t really matter for her. She was more preoccupied with finding clean water, adequate food and trying to obtain scarce medicine to treat a sick child.

Speaking of sick children, world-wide it is estimated that over 22,000 children die every day. 22,000 is a figure worth repeating. That’s filling Boone Pickens Stadium with dead children every 3 days. Most die from malnutrition, lack of clean water, and from preventable diseases.

I read these things and think to myself, “if someone from another planet dropped in one day for look around our little world, how would we begin to explain how the despairing plight of so many fellow beings was somehow acceptable?” Beings who share the same dreams that we do. Beings who love, cry and feel pain just like we do. And because they failed to pick the right parents, neglected to be born in the right country, or really screwed up and put on the wrong color of skin, they experience life on level both horrifying and unimaginable for Americans.

One last intriguing statistic: Over one billion of earth’s inhabitants can’t read or write. That’s one billion people with no future.

I think that there is only one way for mankind to avoid an otherwise inescapable final curtain of world-wide war, disease, famine and chaos. My conclusion: We must help our fellow beings obtain some measure of wealth. All over the world, countries without wealth have a disproportionate number of children born per family. Think south Asia, sub-Sahara in Africa. Perhaps they have large families in part, because so many of their children die young.

On the other hand, as countries succeed by improving their GNP, birth rates always drop. Always. What does this tell us? First, education is critical. Second, rich countries much do everything possible to provide the capital for the world’s poorest countries to build, to grow and eventually, to prosper. Not only is this in the best interest of poorer countries, but also our own. By the way, if my solution doesn’t resonate with you, then you might want to hurry up and come up with Plan B. It is projected that by 2050, the earth’s population will exceed 9 billion.

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