World Population Reaches Seven Billion


On October 31, 2011 the world’s population reached 7 billion. Although nobody knows exactly where this special baby was born, chances are that it comes from Asia.

It took until the Industrial Revolution at the beginning of the 19 th century for the world’s population to pass the one billion mark. Over a hundred years later it doubled to two billion. Since then the world’s population has been growing at a rapid pace. It took only 13 years to get from 6 billion to 7 billion people. The next billion mark is expected to be passed in 2025. Although growth will slow down, the United Nations estimates that by the end of the century the world over 10 billion people will inhabit the world.

Much of the world’s population growth has taken place in the poorest countries of the world. In the developing countries of Asia and Africa population growth is four times as high as in industrial countries. The weak economy of these countries cannot keep up with this fast growth.

The rising population leads to a number of global problems. There are not enough natural resources, like oil or gas, the gap between the rich and poor is increasing and diseases are on the rise too.

Many population experts think that the limits of population growth may be influenced by a single factor: energy. The richest 500 million people in the world produce more than half of the world’s greenhouses gases, and thus, contribute strongly to global warming.



One of the big questions is how many people the world can support. While some food experts argue that world farming can produce food for 12 billion people, there are still over one billion people in our world today who do not get enough to eat. Although the green revolution of the past decades has provided us with more and more food the rise in food prices has pushed many families into poverty.

Slowing down growth in the poorest countries is one of the tasks that lie in front of us. In Somalia, for example, a country with a very high birth rate, only one percent of all women have access to contraceptives. In Africa, birth rates average currently about 50 per thousand people.

While developing countries face the problem of growing too quickly, industrialized countries have a totally different problem. Humans are getting older at a rapid pace. Women are getting fewer babies and people are living longer. In many countries, especially in Europe, governments have the problem of caring for the older generation, which means spending a lot of money. As the baby boomers become pensioners younger workers have the burden of paying for these pensions.



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  • access = get
  • although = while
  • average = normal
  • baby boomer = a person born between the end of World War II and the middle of the 1960s
  • billion = a thousand million
  • birth rate = the number of babies born for every one thousand people a year
  • burden = load , very difficult job
  • care for = look after
  • century = a hundred years
  • chancesare = probably
  • contraceptive = a drug or an object that keeps women from getting a baby
  • contribute = add to
  • currently = right now
  • decade = ten years
  • developing countries = a very poor country with a weak economy
  • especially = above all
  • estimate = think, guess
  • gap = difference
  • global = worldwide
  • green revolution = more and more food can be produced with better farming methods
  • greenhousegas = a gas, like methane or carbon dioxide which leads to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere
  • growth = becoming bigger, larger
  • human = a person
  • increase = go up
  • influence = control
  • inhabit = live in
  • keep up = to be as fast as something else
  • limit = here: where something ends
  • mark = level, number
  • pass = reach
  • poverty = the situation of being poor
  • provide = give
  • rapid pace = very quickly
  • single = only one
  • support = here: feed
  • task = job
  • thus = that is why
  • weak = not strong