Monday, July 23, 2012

Beyond 7 Billion

If you have a spare hour (or two, or three) this week, you NEED to check out “Beyond 7 Billion,” an amazing project by Los Angeles Times reporter Kenneth R. Weiss and staff photographer Rick Loomis (both Pulitzer Prize winners, by the way.)

Honestly, there’s so much to read (and watch) here that I’m going to spend the next few nights geeking out on my laptop at home.  But here are just a few nuggets of information Weiss shares:

  • If birthrates aren’t reduced, we will have 11 billion mouths to feed by 2050. That’s like adding three more Chinas to our world population.
  • Africa alone is expected to add a billion more people by mid-century.
  • If poverty and migration remain steady, by mid-century, 1 in 3 people will live in a slum. Currently, 1 in 8 do.
  • U.S. funding for international family planning programs has been flat for 20 years. Family planning aid to poor countries from all sources has actually been DROPPING since 1999.

Educating women and girls is an important step toward slowing down population growth. (McKay Savage/Foter)
So what can we do to reduce pressure on the planet and give everyone the best possible chance at a good quality of life? Educate women. Let girls be girls, not brides. And make sure every family who wants to delay, limit, end or avoid childbearing has safe and effective means to do so.

Read the stories, view the photos, watch the videos and check out the interactive graphics. But if you want to continue to have any hope in humanity, you might want to avoid reading the comments. Here’s an unedited sample:

  • “I really find it hard to believe that you are all falling for this same old ‘scare’ scam for the 3rd time in my lifetime !!!  The earth is not in jeapardy whatsoever!” (Oh really?)
  • “Abortionis killing babies, thr word fetus mean baby in Latin.” (The “pro-life” contingent makes its requisite appearance.)
  • The catholic church is not advocating the tremendous waste of energy that is threatening mother earth - that's the secular folks doing that. ("Secular folks" advocate energy waste? Huh? And by the way, more people = more energy used.)
  • “This is not America’s problem.” (Just wait until millions are starving, energy is scarce, water is scarcer, and conflict breaks out widely. It very much will be America’s -- and everyone's -- problem.)

And this, in part, is why it’s so darn hard to take any action to help people -- and our planet, too.

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