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, adding 83 million more people to the planet every year. 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 billion mark will arrive 12 years after the last full billion -- in 2023. However, even assuming a declining birth rate, estimates predict the global population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100.

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 2018 theme for World Population Day is "Family Planning is a Human Right!" which focuses attention on providing safe, voluntary access to family planning, particularly to the 225 million women living in the poorest nations on earth who want improved family planning options. Experts agree that securing women this access decreases poverty, while improving women's empowerment, gender equity, economic gains, and development at a national level. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right. 

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

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