7 billion. That's the new buzz number. That's how many people the United Nations Population Fund tells us are now on the planet Earth. 7 billion! That's a lot! And they're predicting a 2 billion+ growth by 2019.
Suddenly, and almost simultaneously, we're hearing messages of lack and scarcity. There aren't enough resources on Earth to replenish 7 billion people. We have to think differently. There's more of us now. And we all share responsibility for our survival, which is largely dependent on the longevity of this planet.
It's funny how fear can be injected into every milestone of our race. How will we survive - all 7 billion (and counting) of us? In some ways, it's almost like saying Mother Earth gave birth to too many children ... and now, she can barely manage to lactate them.
I acknowledge the efforts the UNFPA has made to celebrate the 7 billion milestone. I love the fact that their efforts to record the stories of people from all over the world helps to create greater awareness of the diversity which abounds. It's a splendid idea! I give it two thumbs up.
But this message of scarcity bothers me. I've read so many reports which indicate that scarcity exists only in certain regions of the world. In 2006, the Guardian told us that an apparently very healthy 1% of our people are consuming and controlling a whopping 40% of the world's wealth. So, really, this message of benevolence to 7 billion belies a whiff of hypocrisy.
We spend so much time in labs trying to create super-foods and super-medicines to feed and cure the impoverished when our own bins are filled to the brims with stinking, rotting foods - the excess we could not consume and had to discard.
Waste. While we waste what we have, others' lives waste away.
Since I was a little girl, my question has always been, if there's even nearly enough to go around, how come so many still go without?
There's 7 billion mouths to be fed.
What will we give to make sure none ends up dead?
What comforts are we willing to sacrifice?
To ensure that another stays alive?
Sober up, world. Think about it.
For more on how you can participate in the drive for 7 billion, or to learn more, see 7billionactions.org.