World Population Hitting 7 Billion
The number of people in the world is expected to reach 7 billion by the end of October, 2011. The rate of increase continues to slow from the high point of more than 2 percent in 1968. Still, this year’s 1.1 percent increase means some 78 million people will be added to the global population in 2011.
The human population did not reach 1 billion until the early nineteenth century, and it took more than 100 years to reach 2 billion. After that, the intervals between billions grew even shorter—we added the third billion in 33 years, the fourth in 14 years, the fifth in 13 years, and the sixth and seventh in 12 years each. Anyone alive today who was born by 1940 has seen the numbers triple. The most widely cited United Nations projection shows world population hitting 8 billion in 2025 and 10 billion before the end of this century.
With populations stabilizing in much of the industrial world, almost all population growth in the near future is expected to occur in developing countries. Of the 2.3 billion people to be added by 2050, more than a billion will live in sub-Saharan Africa. The Indian subcontinent will add some 630 million people.
Differences in population growth rates are largely due to varying fertility levels. Global fertility has dropped from close to 5 births per woman in the 1950s to 2.5 births per woman today. More than 40 percent of the world’s people live in countries where fertility is below replacement level. But fertility varies widely across countries. In Niger, women have more than 7 children on average. In the U.S. the average is close to 2, and in Japan it is less than 1.5.
Evidence suggests that many women in poor, fast-growing countries would have fewer children if they had the resources and freedom to plan the number and timing of their births. An estimated 215 million women in the developing world do not have access to the family planning resources they need. Worldwide, approximately 40 percent of pregnancies are unintended. A study from the Futures Group and calculations by population expert Robert Engelman indicate that if all women were able to become pregnant only when they chose to, global fertility would drop close to or even below replacement level, greatly reducing population growth.
Voluntary family planning programs have proved effective in lowering fertility rates. In Mexico, for instance, a national family planning program started in the mid-1970s with support from the U.S. and the United Nations has helped raise contraceptive use from less than one-fourth to two-thirds of women. Fertility has fallen from roughly 7 to 2.2 births per woman.
Surveys show that across societies, women with more education tend to have fewer, healthier children. In Mali, for example, women with no schooling have 7 children on average, while those with at least a secondary education have fewer than 4. Yet many women around the world still lack access to education.
In 1994, delegates from 179 countries at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, recognized reproductive health and family planning as fundamental human rights. Participating countries agreed on the goal of universal, voluntary access to reproductive health and family planning services by 2015, pledging to invest $17 billion per year by 2000 and $22 billion per year by 2015. Thus far, however, contributions have fallen far short of pledges, and close to $20 billion per year above current expenditures is still needed. This investment could prevent 53 million unwanted pregnancies each year, improve infant and maternal health, and reduce associated health care costs.
Access to reproductive health care brings far-reaching benefits to individuals, families, and whole societies. When a woman can choose the timing of her pregnancies, her education is less likely to be cut short by early motherhood. Female education and family planning reduce risks to child and maternal health and boost women’s chances of economic advancement. Smaller family sizes can help raise families out of poverty.
When fertility declines quickly, reducing the number of young dependents relative to working-age adults, countries can experience what is known as the demographic bonus. Governments can spend more per person on public services, families can spend more on each child, and more money is available to invest in economic development. This bonus can kick-start a nation’s economy—it contributed, for instance, to the rapid economic development of several Asian countries, including South Korea and Taiwan, in the 1970s and 1980s.
Some industrial countries are becoming concerned about aging populations. Japan, for example, has nearly doubled its share of the population aged 65 and over in the past 20 years. In industrial countries as a group, the share of the population aged 65 and over is expected to increase from 16 to 26 percent between now and 2050. In contrast, the youthfulness of populations remains a challenge for many developing countries. In developing countries as a group, almost 40 percent of the population is under the age of 20. Countries with large populations of young people and poor employment prospects are more prone to violence.
As the world’s population grows, less land and water are available for each person. Poor people, who often depend more immediately on natural resources and are less able to compete for dwindling supplies, bear the heaviest burden. Meanwhile, rapidly growing populations stress their own local environments. In fast-growing Yemen, the population has increased four-fold over the last 40 years while the overpumping of aquifers has helped shrink the country’s grain harvest by one third. In Pakistan, the pressures of a large and fast-growing population have contributed to widespread deforestation and soil degradation, making the historic flooding events of the last two years even more destructive.
The U.N. population projections do not consider how the environmental problems we create, such as water scarcity and climate change, may limit our ability to grow. Whether we are able to sustain human civilization depends on not only our numbers, but also the rate at which we consume the earth’s resources and create waste. At the global level, we are already far overshooting the earth’s capacity to support us, even as some 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty.
Another 2 billion people may be added to the world population by mid-century, many of them in places where hunger, poverty and environmental degradation are already taking a high toll. Supporting the world’s human population will mean eliminating poverty, transitioning to an economy that is in sync with the earth, and securing every person’s health, education and reproductive choice. If we do not voluntarily stabilize population, we risk a much less humane end to growth as the ongoing destruction of the earth’s natural systems catches up.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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