By Mary O’KEEFE
In a release from the United Nations on Nov. 15 the world population reached 8 billion people. In 1950, five years after the forming of the United Nations, the world population was estimated at about 2.6 billion people. By 1987 it had reached 5 billion and 6 billion in 1999. The world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years and could peak to almost 11 billion around 2100, according to the United Nations.
But back to that 8 billion number. I know many think this Earth is so large that 8 billion really isn’t that many; we can take on more. The fact is we will be taking on more and more and more. But what will this mean? It will mean everyone will have to make some adjustments. Many in LA County are angry that their local neighborhoods are opening up to multi-unit homes but it seems as our populations grow having a home with a yard may be a dream of the past, at least for future generations.
In “Mark of Gideon” episode from the original “Star Trek” series (and yes when I am worried about the future I always turn to “Star Trek”) a planet once described as paradise is found to be anything but. The planet had healing properties that built up the immune system so much that death was a rarity and, although many would see that as a good thing, the Gideons finally realized the stark reality. Even though there were methods of contraception available they did not use it because, as their leader said, life is precious. There were so many people the population had to move as one. In some of the shots in the episode there was constant moving of people only a few inches apart.
This is what I think of when I think of a population of 8 billion … and growing. The world I know will not be the world my grandchild knows. Being “Star Trek” there was always that small glimmer of hope. The officials/politicians realized this was, in fact, overpopulation although, boy, did they take forever to come to that conclusion. They chose the daughter of the leader to be the one to seduce Kirk, which anyone who knows the show knows this was a very simple task. Let’s just say Kirk didn’t wear a mask and was not standing six feet apart from the leader’s daughter. He infected her with an illness that he had survived but still carried the antibodies. The point of having the daughter of the leader be the first to die was symbolic for the Gideons; however, Kirk did not agree with that and suggested she be the “Typhoid Mary” of the planet. At any rate the positive side was the politicians finally realized there was a problem; but again not until there was a lot of suffering.
I am hoping that our leaders will be a little more proactive than reactive. As the population grows more food, shelter, water and medical support will be needed. As the population grows the mindset of “This is mine and all the way over there is yours” will have to change. With more people comes more waste and more pollutants and more problems for the planet.
And as the populations grows we will no doubt be forced to work together somehow, someway if we are going to survive. Let’s hope that we learn early, like now, so we don’t end up stuck wandering the planet side-by-side-by-side with our neighbors as we just look for a place to rest.
When Kirk confronted the leader of Gideon about lying about the planet being a paradise, the leader said, “And so it was a long, long time ago.” Let’s hope we all learn the lessons of “Star Trek” and do enough now so we don’t have to talk about our Earth’s beauty in the past tense.
For our immediate future there may be some winds tomorrow and into Saturday but much weaker than on Wednesday, according to Kristen Stewart, meteorologist with the National Oceanic Atmosphere Agency (NOAA).
The highs next week will be in the high 60s and low 70s. Although Thanksgiving is a little far out for NOAA to estimate it does look like no winds and highs in the 70s.