The UN chose a symbolic baby, giving the title to baby Danica of the Philippines, although a little girl named Nargis, born in Utter Pradesh, India, was also chosen. Perhaps she’s 7,000,000,001. In actuality, a number of other babes in other countries also were celebrated as potentially being the 7 billionth.
Of course, Oct. 31 was merely a projection of the day when we’d surpass seven plus nine zeros, which is somewhat ironic as a recent study from the Yale Public School of Health says fewer babies are born on Halloween than on other days, giving credence to the theory that mothers may have some unconscious influence on when their babies are born. In other words, some of us may be able to avoid particularly inauspicious days for giving birth. Not me, however. Though I like to think I’m a modern woman, having one of my babes born on the 13th day of the month did give me a slight twinge of superstitious discomfort — though clearly not enough to delay his descent down the birth canal for 14 hours.
Regardless, our population has passed a huge mark in terms of capacity, and this whole exponential-growth thing shows no sign of slowing. In fact, the UN just upped their population prediction from 9 billion to 10 billion by the year 2050. Hello? That’s 3 billion more of us in less than 40 years. While I am somewhat unlikely to be around then, my kids should still be kicking. By then, they likely will have contributed to that population increase themselves. In fact, selfishly, I hope they do. But on a humanistic level, I’ve got to admit, future procreation, especially of U.S. babies, terrifies me. According to a recent article in Mother Jones, two American kids have an average lifetime carbon footprint equal to that of 337 Bangladeshi kids.
And what’s possibly going to curb world population? Massive starvation from inadequate food production, diseases from lack of clean water and sanitation, and natural disasters brought on by climate instability. And who is most likely to suffer and die? Those Bangladeshi kids — and others in underdeveloped, poverty-stricken areas of the world.
The better-educated and more literate women are, the fewer children they’re likely to have. They also tend to have them later in life. In fact, U.S. women have on average 2.05 children, while Niger comes in number one in the world with an average of 7.19 babies born per women (again, per the UN). Of course, those Nigerien children only have a life expectancy of around 52 years, while us Americans can expect to live to see our late 70s.
Thus, Americans have fewer kids who consume more and live longer and who produce more carbon leading to fewer resources and increased climate instability, while Nigeriens have more kids who produce little carbon but who have access to limited resources and have a lower life expectancy.
Ouch.That’s some painful math. I don’t have good answers. But while I personally might congratulate the parents of Danica and Nargis on the births of their babes, I don't think being number 7 billion is cause for celebration.