Eight Billion People

That’s how many people are currently living on Planet Earth.

That’s a lot of people! It’s a hard number to wrap our heads around. Sure, it can feel crowded at the grocery store, especially this time of year when everyone is doing their holiday shopping. But that’s nothing compared to 8 billion people.

Those 8 billion aren’t spread evenly across the surface of the planet. Some countries have far more people than others. India is on track to overtake China as the most populous country by next year, while Tuvalu, an island country in the South Pacific, has the fewest people. Unless, of course, you are considering the Vatican City in Rome, with a population of 512.

It took hundreds of thousands of years for the world population to reach 1 billion, but we jumped from 7 billion to 8 billion during the course of only 12 years. Why? Scientists point to improvements in healthcare. We are better equipped to fight diseases and treat injuries, and we know what to eat and how to exercise in order to increase life expectancy.

The world’s population is expected to continue to grow and pass 10 billion in the next 60 years. How do we feed and care for that many people? We get smart about resources. We develop ways to produce and transport food that don’t take a lot of energy. We recognize that we need to change the way we do things in order for everyone to survive and thrive.

The global population won’t grow forever. In fact, it’s growing at its slowest rate since 1950. Researchers predict the rate will peak in 2100 and then begin to fall. Having more elderly people in the world than younger people is another problem. Who’s going to take care of elderly people? Who’s going to come along and do the jobs best suited toward people who are fit and healthy?

Thinking ahead is an important step in solving these future problems!

Who’s the 8 billionth baby? We don’t actually know! All of these numbers are the best estimates, and there’s no way to tell which new human is the one that tips our population over into a new million.

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