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Humans on Earth have reached and surpassed 8 billion. As states debate the need to tackle climate change, news of the world’s historic population increase comes as soon as COP27, the annual UN climate conference taking place in Egypt.

In seventy years, the number of women and men on the planet, at all latitudes, has almost quadrupled, rising from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 8 billion today. The figure comes from an official United Nations estimate. The UN speaks of “an important step in human development” and a warning, in full COP27. This to “our shared responsibility to take care of our planet”. According to the UN, “this unprecedented growth” is the result of “a progressive extension of life expectancy thanks to advances in public health, nutrition, hygiene and medicine”.

A nurse puts a t-shirt with the inscription “Bimbo 8 billion” on newborn Damian at the Altagracia maternity hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, early November 15, 2022. Photo Ansa/Epa Orlando Barria

But population growth poses major challenges to the poorest countries. If until the beginning of the 19th century the Earth had less than a billion inhabitants, now 12 years have been enough to go from 7 to 8 billion people in the world. But that doesn’t mean humans are in some sort of endless population explosion. Indeed, a demonstration of a slowdown in the birth rate of children is the UN forecast that it will take about 15 years to reach 9 billion men and women on Earth. Not before 2037, then. The UN predicts a “peak” of 10.4 billion in 2080. And then stagnation until the end of the current 21st century.

Billions of humans

Faced with the growth of the population to 8 billion inhabitants, a global difficulty resurfaced during the Cop27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt). That is to say that the rich countries of the North of the world and the poor countries of the South manage to agree on a more ambitious reduction of greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities. Rich countries, including Italy, are the main culprits of global warming. One of the factors that most determine the climatic changes that occur at all latitudes of our planet. Phenomena characterized by the multiplication of so-called extreme events. Namely storms, water bombs, tornadoes, floods, scorching temperatures out of season, drought in winter as in summer.

A Yemeni woman bakes bread for her family in a makeshift shelter in a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. Photo Ansa/Epa Yahya Arhab

Well, with a world population of 8 billion people, more than 1 in 10 people (828 million) go hungry. And this injustice becomes even more serious due to the deadly mix of climate change on top of the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as in many other parts of the world. All this emerges from Coldiretti’s analysis.

Millions of undernourished children

About 2.3 billion people in the world, or 29.3%, live in conditions of moderate or severe food insecurity. And around 45 million children under the age of 5 suffer from wasting. While 149 million children under the age of 5 show developmental deficits due to a chronic lack of essential nutrients in their diets. Food difficulties have increased. Both in developing countries and in economically more advanced countries. The effects of the pandemic first and then of the energy crisis have demonstrated the centrality of food and the importance, underlines Coldiretti, of guaranteeing food autonomy. In a global scenario marked by trade distortions, hoarding and speculation that put supplies at risk for everyone.

A Syrian worker at a scrap yard in Sarmada district, on the outskirts of Idlib. Photo Ansa/Epa Sedat Suna

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