Earth welcomed its 7 billionth human late last month, according to
the United Nations Population Fund, an event greeted with both
hope and sober reflection.
The world’s population growth is slowing. Growth peaked in 1963,
at 2.2 percent per year, and began to decline. By 2009, it stood at 1.1
percent. Earth’s population will continue to grow, experts predict, but
more and more slowly, perhaps stabilizing by 2050 between 8 billion and
10 billion. Two undeniably positive trends help drive that decline: rising
levels of learning and gender equity for girls and women, which fuel
opportunity and prosperity – and result in smaller, better-off families.
Experts foresee a huge rise in middle-class incomes worldwide and a
corresponding decline in those who are abjectly poor.
On a macro level, access to food, clean water, jobs, safety, and justice
for all those people remains a huge and vexing problem. On a micro
level, as seen through the lenses of Monitor photographers, the elation
of activity, the pride of parenthood, the satisfaction of accomplishment
remain human universals and sources of comfort and joy. Check out the full gallery of our staff photos.
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