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 sometime last October. 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 2013 theme for World Population Day is "Spotlight on Adolescent Pregnancy," raising awareness about the risks adolescent girls face because of early pregnancy. Nearly 16 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year; pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death for girls in that age group worldwide. Organizers hope their campaign will help create "a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled."

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

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