24 Oct 2011

World population to reach 7 billion

A dozen years ago the world’s six billionth child was born. Now the UN thinks the seven billionth child will arrive next week. But what does it mean for the planet? Channel 4 News asks the experts.

World population to reach 7 billion (Getty)

The United Nations says the global milestone represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the planet.

But it’s also a reminder of just how quickly the world’s population is growing – ten thousand babies are born every hour.

The UN report, due to be released on Wednesday, will also say that the total could reach as much as sixteen billion by the end of the century.

But is this population boom a problem?

The worry is how to feed and provide for all these extra people. But others suggest the problem is already solved because as people move to cities and get richer, they want fewer children. Just over half the world’s population lives in cities.

Watch the Channel 4 News debate below with Fred Pearce, author of Peoplequake,and Erik Assadourian from the Worldwatch Institute – and let us know what you think on Facebook and Twitter, @channel4news.