Today, according to projections from the United Nations Population Fund, the global population hit 7 billion—a number that continues to grow by more than 200,000 a day. As Ms. reported in the latest issue (on newsstands now or available here), the increasingly steep climb in the Earth’s population raises serious concerns about sustainability. The Feminist Majority has highlighted some of the most alarming statistics, including:
- 20 percent of the planet’s population uses 80 percent of its resources and consumes 30 percent more than the planet can regenerate.
- More than 2.7 billion people live on less than $2 per day, and one billion people live on less than one dollar per day.
- Some 1 billion people are malnourished, with 98 percent of those people living in impoverished nations.
- More than 2.6 billion people—more than 40 per cent of the world’s population—do not have basic sanitation, and more than 1 billion people have unsafe sources of drinking water.
- 99 percent of maternal mortality takes place in the developing world, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
- An estimated 215 million women in the developing world who want to avoid pregnancy don’t have access to modern contraception.
Ms. publisher Ellie Smeal points out that, “As the population climbs rapidly, unfortunately so does human suffering—mostly among women and children.” Yet the U.S. can focus policy on saving the lives of thousands of women and girls, reducing human suffering, slowing the global population growth and helping to create a more sustainable environment. However, recent budget cuts have eliminated more than $430 million in funding for international family planning programs, and that could be devastating. For every $10 million cut from international family planning and reproductive health programs,
- 610,000 fewer women and couples will receive contraceptive services and supplies
- 190,000 more unintended pregnancies and 82,000 more unplanned births will occur
- 83,000 more abortions will take place (of which 60,000 will be unsafe)
- 500 more maternal deaths will occur
- 59,000 more years of healthy life will be lost
- 2,300 more children will lose their mothers