Today, October 12, marks the day when demographers say the world’s population reaches six billion. According to population experts, population today is a good news, bad news story. They say that stabilization programs over the past generation have shown remarkable success in averting the doomsday scenarios that seemed likely 30 years ago. Better education and health services, declining mortality rates, delayed childbearing and other factors have substantially slowed the rate of population growth. Worldwide, women are now having just half the number of children their mothers did.
The problem, according to population stabilization advocates, is no longer a population explosion but “population momentum”- they are concerned that a record 1 billion adolescents worldwide are now entering their peak childbearing years and destined to drive global population as high as 10 billion before it finally levels off around 2050. More than 95 percent of this growth will reportedly occur in poor developing nations without the housing, jobs, social or health services to support it. Advocates say that pressure will further exhaust already depleted natural resources, intensify social and political conflicts, and exacerbate threats to human health posed by poverty, overburdened public services, and under-built infrastructures.
- Gloria Feldt, President, Planned Parenthood Federation, the nation’s largest reproductive service group, and a leading voice for reproductive choice.
- Peter Kostmayer, retired 7-term U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, and Executive Director of Zero Population Growth. He is a leading advocate of international family planning.