World population hits eight billion – UN

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The United Nations says that the world’s population has reached eight billion people, adding that there will be more hardship in store for regions already facing resource scarcity because of climate change.

The director of the UN’s population division, John Wilmoth, disclosed this on Tuesday, noting that reaching eight billion people is “a sign of human success, but also a great risk for our future”.

According to him, middle-income countries, mainly in Asia, accounted for most of that growth, gaining about 700 million people since 2011, while India added about 180 million people and is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation next year.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said in a statement that births have been steadily declining in the United States, Europe, and Japan, adding that China, which has also struggled with the legacy of its One Child Policy programme, urged families last year to have a second and even third child as it also limited access to non-medical abortions.

However, some of the world’s poorest countries, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, witnessed an upsurge in population due to higher fertility rates, putting their development goals at risk.

Guterres said “The milestone is an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet”.

The global population has increased by eight-fold since 1800, from an estimated one billion to eight billion, largely due to the development of modern medicine and the industrialisation of agriculture, which boosted global food supplies.

The development of vaccines was essential, especially the smallpox jab which helped to eradicate one of the world’s biggest killer diseases.

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