World Population – The U.N. on Monday marked the world population reaching 7 billion amid fears of how the planet will cope. Amid the millions of births and deaths, it is impossible to pinpoint the arrival of the globe’s 7 billionth occupant.
However, the U.N. chose Monday to mark the day with a string of festivities, and a series of symbolic 7 billionth babies being born.
In South Africa, Nozipho Goqo, an unemployed 19-year-old from Johannesburg, gave birth to a boy Monday. She gave him a Zulu name, Gwakwanele, that means “enough.” A nurse at Charlotte Maxeke, a sprawling teaching hospital, teased Goqo that she was too young to know whether Gwakwanele would be her last. Goqo smiled, and said she was sure.
Demographers say it took until 1804 for the world to reach its first billion people, and a century more until it hit 2 billion in 1927. The twentieth century, though, saw things begin to cascade: 3 billion in 1959; 4 billion in 1974; 5 billion in 1987; 6 billion in 1998.
The U.N. estimates the population will reach 8 billion by 2025 and 10 billion by 2083. However, the numbers could vary widely, depending on everything from life expectancy to access to birth control to infant mortality rates.
In Uttar Pradesh, India, the most populous state, officials said they would appoint seven girls born Monday to symbolize the 7 billion. India, which struggles with a deeply held preference for sons and a skewed sex ratio because of millions of aborted female fetuses, is using the day to highlight that issue.
“It would be a fitting moment if the 7 billionth baby is a girl born in rural India,” said Dr. Madhu Gupta, an Uttar Pradesh gynecologist. “It would help in bringing the global focus back on girls, who are subject to inequality and bias.” According to U.S. government estimates, India has 893 girls for every 1,000 boys at birth, compared with 955 girls per 1,000 boys in the United States population.