July 11

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Today in Science

World Population Day

Today is World Population Day. It is set aside to raise awareness about population issues around the world. The United Nations designated July 11th as an annual observance in 1989, two years after the international organization marked the Day of 5 Billion.

Scientists and statisticians estimate that the world population hit seven billion near October 31, 2011. The world population is growing rapidly due to improvements in health care, life expectancy, and infant mortality rates. The earth's human population only hit one billion concurrent residents in 1804. While it took 123 years for it to reach two billion in 1927, each additional billion was achieved far more quickly -- 32 (in 1959), 15 (1974), 13 (1987), and 11 (1998) years respectively. Population growth has slowed slightly. This most recent billion mark took 14 years to reach, and experts estimate the eight billionth mark will not arrive for 14 more years -- in 2025.

Scientists study demography and population trends because of the underlying implications they have for human health, planetary resources, climate change, and a variety of other scientific fields.

The 2015 theme for World Population Day is "Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies," which focuses attention on women, children, and teens displaced through crises. The latest United Nations figures estimate that 60 million people around the world have been displaced from their homes. While shelter and food remain universal needs, they are not the only concerns for some refugees. Reproductive health issues (including education, contraception, family planning, pregnancy care, and post-partum care), safety from gender-based violence, and sexually-transmitted diseases are of particular concern for these at-risk populations.

Check out these population-related Science NetLinks resources to learn more:

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