I updated my iPad to iOS 5 today. I also downloaded a new app from National Geographic. It's called "7 Billion".
Because on Halloween, the world population will break 7 billion people. To me, that sort of has a negative connotation, and reading through the app (which is like a virtual magazine) affirmed this notion. "The more the merrier" doesn't really apply here.
That's because things don't really go very well when there are too many of us. And by 2045 (when I am 51) the population will be at 9 billion. "How many more can the planet take?" is sort of the question.
Getting back to right now, the global population has gotten higher at an exponential rate, increasing by one billion from 2000 (as opposed to the one-billion increase that occurred from 1800 to 1930). Other than the fact that there might be not enough resources to sustain this population, there are some immediate effects of too many people. And I learned about them from pictures. And while some people think that pictures say a thousand words, they in fact say none; they just show you emotions and feelings a lot better than any word can.
A few of those pictures come to mind. One of them is a group of eleven kids and teens surrounded by a mother who is just over 40 years old. She lives in Kenya and makes about $3 per day. She had her first child when she was 15 and she is struggling to make a sloppy porridge for her kids in this small tent. And the children all gather around waiting to be fed.
Another is an interesting photograph: the fancy buildings in an urban city in Venezuela, where the richer people live, is in the background. And nestled in the foreground is an open shack with a bunch of barefoot children dancing and laughing together. The walls of their shack are made of yellow fabric pieces pulled by the ends to the metal roof and some old posters. The rest of their shack is open, and it's where they all sleep. All five of them.
And this future that never seems to come, that seems so far away that it could never harm us, has already hit some people around the world. In another photograph a man wearing only a swim suit holds a little baby. He is with a group of about 10 people, and a woman is in the middle floating on a raft cooking something. Other men stand around holding children. Some cram onto the raft and watch her cook. Some stare off into space, nothing really on their minds. They are all in a shack made of some rotting and dilapidated bamboo shoots. They are standing up to their knees in dirty water, and upon a log nearby rests some pairs of flip flops.
Another one is of a boat, no bigger than a small recreational fishing boat, with a small makeshift bridge with children walking across. This boat is their school, where they sit on little wooden chairs and learn basic things. They cannot go to school in a building because it would get flooded. So they instead go in a boat. But only little boys can go, not girls. They are confined in their homes.
And another picture reminds me of a horribly sad book I read. A bunch of boys are playing soccer in a broken city. There is nothing there but an empty warehouse. The sky and the water on the ground are the same color - brown. It looks post-apocalyptic. But they are playing in the murky gross water, with no concern, it seems, to their fallen world.
Life is so much harder than we really think it is. Concerns we have don't even cross the minds of other people around the world. What outfit should I wear to my college interview? What should I go about turning in this school project late? Where should I go buy this yogurt, because Publix doesn't have it? What should my new Facebook profile picture be? Most of the world is thinking things like: How will I feed myself and my family? What happens if another flood comes? What if I don't have enough money? What if my kids die from starvation or some disease?
Sometimes it's hard to think that we live on the same planet. I just went to a Halloween party at the country club and I got a manicure. Things that other people around the world would never dream of doing. Even my cat has a better life than some of these people, where the average number of births per woman is over 7.
When some people say "I want to see the world", I think that they are talking about the famous landmarks, the beautiful landscapes and basically, the "good" parts. But they forget about the other parts like the slums, the ghettos, the flood regions, and the poverty-stricken villages. And that's more than 85% of the world.