ON Tuesday, November 15, 2022, the world’s population hit the eight billion mark, as predicted. One billion more people have just been added to the seven billion recorded in 2011. 

We arrived quicker to this juncture than earlier forecasts, which had projected between 2024 and 2033 as the D-date. It is now estimated that by 2037, the number will climb to nine billion, while the world’s population will peak at 10.4 billion as from 2080.

According to a United Nations statement marking the milestone: “This unprecedented growth is due to the gradual increase in the human lifespan owing to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine. It is also the result of high and persistent levels of fertility in some countries”.

This fertility issue is more pronounced in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere. For instance, Asia accounted for 700 million of the one billion addition since 2011, while India alone, which is poised to overhaul China as the world’s most populous country, contributed about 180 million people.

There is a note of warning which Africans and their leaders had better pay keen attention to: most of the future new people to be born in the world will come from sub-Saharan Africa. India and China will no longer account for the bulk of the world’s rapid population growth rate. That fertility trend will be more  associated with Africa than elsewhere.

However, irrespective of where the bulk of the world’s population growth rate shifts to, it is still a shared global responsibility because it will impact everyone. 

For instance, more people in the world will worsen the climate change challenge already facing us. More people will be needing freshwater, food and the good life. They will migrate to any part of the world where they feel they can get it. This will definitely increase conflicts and human suffering.

Also, the natural eco-diversity of the world will be distressed. With humans seizing more of the world’s land and freshwater resources, there will be less space for the plant and animal species that help sustain life. The United Nations has a lot to do to coordinate activities that will slow population growth and limit its backlashes.

The promotion of peaceful coexistence, prevention of wars, encouragement of good governance and improvement of the lives of people, especially in the developing world, will help make the world a more livable place for the future generations. It will also help to attenuate fertility rates in the developing countries.

Nigeria must take note, too, that in 13 years, the population rose from 180 to 211 million as of date. This could double in 30 years if care is not taken. Governance must improve, or Nigeria will turn into a cesspool of primitive violence and mass desertions.

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