Welcome, baby 7,000,000,000
And not since King Herod heard a rumour that a woman in Bethlehem was about to give birth to a King of Jews has there been so much gnashing of teeth over the arrival of one child.
Population panic-mongers are doing their best to transform the arrival of Baby 7,000,000,000 from an occasion of joy into an ‘ominous sign’. Apparently this birth proves humanity is breeding too fast, giving rise to reckless pilfering of Mother Nature’s larder of increasingly scarce resources.
Ignore all this mean-spiritedness. Here are seven reasons we should treat the arrival of the seven billionth human as a moment of joy.
1) It proves how ingenious human beings are.
That the Earth is capable of holding 7 billion people is testament to humanity’s creativity. At the start of the twentieth century, global population was 1.5 billion. It doubled by 1960, reaching 3 billion. And in the 50 years since then, it has more than doubled again, now reaching a high of 7 billion. That we can welcome a seven billionth person is thanks to the revolution in life expectancy brought about by our techno-breakthroughs and medical discoveries.
2) It proves we’re better at keeping people alive.
The miserabilists claim by squeezing so many resource-hoovering humans on to one tiny planet, we’re making life harder not only for poor Mother Earth but also for ourselves. Yet human life has improved exponentially as the population has shot up. Yes, there are still problems of poverty and hunger, but around the world life expectancy – that great barometer of progress – is rising. In 1900, when there were only 1.5 billion of us, global life expectancy was 30 years. In 1960, when there were three billion people it was 49. Today it is 69.2. Unlike his or her great-grandmother, this new baby has a very good chance of living to 70.
3) It will remind us of our urban revolution.
Baby 7 billion is also likely to live in a city rather than a poor village or farm. In 1900, only 14 per cent of people lived in cities. By 2000 that had risen to 47 per cent. Now more than half of us do. Less starvation, longer lives, more urbanised living... Ignore all those who claim human life gets harder as population rises – the precise opposite seems to be the case.
4) It will prove the doom-mongers wrong.
This birth is not only an occasion for joy but for schadenfreude too. Throughout history, misery guts have told us to stop breeding or else face hell in an overcrowded handcart.In 200AD, when the global population was 200 million, the Christian philosopher Tertullian moaned: “We are burdensome to the world.” In the early 1800s, when there were 980 million people, Thomas Malthus said the Earth could not cope with any more. Let’s hope the cries of baby 7 billion torture the souls of these premature predictors of doom.
5) It will create another ‘mind to think.’
Too often babies, especially Third World ones, are sneeringly referred to as ‘another mouth to feed’. But people are much more than ‘mouths to feed’. They’re also hands to create, minds to think, hearts to love. Seven billion minds are better than one.
6) It shows how clever we are with nature’s resources.
We’re often told natural resources are running out thanks to greedy humans. But the usefulness of a resource is determined by us, not by nature. In Roman times, coal was only used to make jewellery. Centuries later we used it to power the Industrial Revolution. In olden times, uranium was used to make glass look more yellow. Now we use it to make nuclear power and light whole cities. Who knows what secrets we will unlock by the time baby 7 billion comes of age?
7) It’s a private moment of happiness.
Elbowing aside the politicisation of what will probably be a pretty unexceptional birth, the arrival of a new baby is usually a moment of joy for the family concerned. So welcome, baby 7 billion – and may you live long and prosper.