The United Nations Population Fund arbitrarily named Yazuri Tarmeno, born in Lima, Peru, on Monday, Oct. 31, to be the world’s seven-billionth living person. While the United States Census Bureau disagrees with the UN’s calculations, and claims that the world will not hit the seven billion mark until March of 2012, this relatively minor discrepancy does not detract from the fact that the global population is booming. Many argue that the world simply cannot sustain such a large population. Some of these people have capitalized on the “seven billion mark” to push a new worldwide program of population consciousness.
“Population consciousness,” as it has been described in recent days, is the awareness that mankind needs to act together to slow the world’s rapid population growth. Contraception, then, is the chief means of control. CNN featured an article on Oct. 31 – just hours after baby Tarmeno was born – claiming that the birth of the seven-billionth person marked the launch of the campaign of seven billion reasons why all women should have access to universal healthcare, especially to contraceptive medicine, and to education.
I understand that seven billion is a big number. I understand that in regions like Niger, in which women average eight births per lifetime and maternal mortality rates are high, reproductive education is necessary to the health of the woman and to the health of the local, regional and global population. I do not understand, however, the claim that there now exist seven billion reasons why all women should contracept. This claim is illogical, irrational and intended, I think, to be a piece of sensationalist news.
Perhaps the questions we should be asking are: Why has the world’s population more than tripled in 80 years? Birth rates have been in steep decline in Western countries for the last half a century; so who, then, has been reproducing enough to increase world population so dramatically? Even if the world’s population is increasing and is larger now than ever before, aren’t we, as a world, also better equipped to provide for seven billion now than ever before?