As Child #7bn is Born Today, Children #5bn and #6bn Shrug
She arrived a tad early, but Danica May Camacho, born in Manila just before midnight on Sunday, is the United Nations-designated baby number 7,000,000,000. And so today, October 31, is Seven Billion Day, a UN initiative that highlights the world’s ever growing population and the challenges that come with such a number. Meanwhile children number 5,000,000,000 and 6,000,000,000 have moved on. Both were born in what is now the former Yugoslavia. Matej Gaspar, #5bn, was born in Croatia in 1987. And in Visoko (pictured), outside of Sarajevo, Adnan Nevic of Bosnia was held up by then-UN General Secretary Kofi Annan and presented to the world in 1999. Both have moved on, and have become friends on Facebook. The young men have also complained that the UN has ignored them, moving on after surrounding the family in adulation and press after their birth. Those who always warn us about overpopulation are having a field day and predicting gloom and doom. Scheduling this day on Halloween, I suppose, is appropriate since we should be spooked over all these people crowding the planet. The questions over overpopulation, however, are complicated. Children in the west use far more resources than those on the other side of the globe. Fears over the pollution and environmental degradation in countries like India and China forget that those emissions are largely the result from manufacturing goods that they export to us. And the problem with food supply, albeit now complicated with drought and climate volatility, is largely one of distribution, not supply. What is a pressing issue is that many countries have high birth rates because women do not have access to birth control. American foreign policy could change that, but turned away from a focus on population in the past decade. Countries like the Philippines, which is home to 95 million people, could be more proactive--The Guardian’s Jasmine Coleman points out that in the Philippines, 10 percent of girls 15 to 19 have been pregnant. Better policy starts at home. Meanwhile Adnan Nevic and Matej Gaspar are living their lives like any young men of their generation. It is up to the UN to decide whether Seven Billion Day will just generate more platitudes or real policy.