A growing challenge

Published 12:12 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It is difficult to determine whether to celebrate or lament Monday’s announcement the world population surpassed 7 billion.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hit the nail on the head when he noted a “world of contradictions” during a news conference in New York.

“A seven billion population is a challenge,” Ki-moon said, according to The Associated Press. “At the same time, an opportunity, depending upon how the international community prepares for that challenge.”

The conflicting challenges, according to Ki-moon, are apparent worldwide: 1 billion people suffer from hunger in a world abundant with food, the gap between rich and poor continues to expand, medicinal research has failed to slow the death rate among mothers during childbirth and countries continue to spend on weapons rather than invest in their futures.

“Even with 7 billion, the gap between rich and poor is increasing, and in the poorest countries extreme poverty, food insecurity, inequality, high death rate and high birth rates are linked in a vicious cycle,” Ki-moon said. “So we have to address all these issues in a comprehensive manner.”

In the 84 years since 1927, the world population has gone from 2 billion to 7 billion. Experts at the U.N. estimate the population will surpass 8 billion by 2025.

Time is running out on finding solutions.

The global community must welcome the opportunity to address these challenges and begin preparing for comprehensive answers.