8 billion people in the world: welcome to the club

In mid-November, the world population will grow to 8 billion. Phew, quite a lot, some will say. Fortunately, people are inventive.

People with a baby in their arms, champagne glasses in front of them.

In mid-November we will be 8 billion people on earth for the first time Photo: Martin Parr/Magnum Photos/Agency Focus

Birth is a borderline experience. The woman’s stomach is tearing in pain, but once she’s in motion she has to go through it. And above all, the child has to go through it! This can take agonizing hours, sometimes days. But in the end, when it’s done, there’s a little new person in front of you. Incredible luck.

Around the world, something like this happens hundreds of thousands of times every day, a constant explosion of life. And because there are so many births, humanity as a whole is also faced with a borderline experience: according to calculations by the United Nations, the 8,000,000,000 or so will come in mid-November. earthling to the world. Yes, the zeros are correct. We’ve never been so many.

Of course, with such global statistics, nobody knows exactly when or where the 8 billion mark will be exceeded. Perhaps the jubilarian has long been croaking happily somewhere. But the size should be right.

Wasn’t there talk of 6 billion just recently? If you look at the development of the world population, it is actually amazing. Around the year 0 there were around 300 million people, historians estimate. It stayed that way for centuries, also because of wars, famines and the plague. Then came the agricultural revolution, and later industrialization. The first billion is said to have been cracked around 1800, the second in 1927 and the third in 1960. There were 6 billion contemporaries in 1999.

However, growth has been slowing for a while. We’re getting more, but not that much more. According to United Nations forecasts, the human population will exceed 10 billion by the 2080s, and the number should fall again in the next century. Peak world population is not far off.

8, 9, 10 billion: Phew, that’s quite a lot, some will say. More people who eat, drink, fart, live, heat, drive a car and want to go to Mallorca at Easter. Scientists reassure: There is enough for everyone, you just have to distribute it differently. In any case, it will be a major challenge – ecologically, politically, socially.

as 2011 the 7 billion were reached, so – unlike in the past – one no longer chose a single baby to celebrate symbolically, but several: Danica was welcomed to the Philippines on the key date, Hayat to the West Bank, Petja and Alexander to Russia. They didn’t just want to make one person the face of a phenomenon that was felt to be so ambivalent.

You can also see it this way: people are inventive, they have developed technologies, drugs and machines that improve life immensely. That’s the only reason why we were able to become so many. With every new child, the probability increases that there is a particularly clever person among them with ideas on how the current problems might be solved after all.

With this in mind, dear Alishas and Jeans, Emilias and Mahmouds, Wěis and Olivias, who are seeing the light of day these days: Welcome to the club! You will definitely like it here. Unfortunately, things don’t always go well. But let’s make the best of it together.

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