Is Earth capable of sustaining eight billion people?

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It’s time to rethink our broken and unfair family planning systems.

July 11 was World Population Day, an observance established by the United Nations aiming to highlight population issues, particularly how the human population relates to the environment. The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) marked the occasion by releasing its World Population Prospects 2022 report, which announced that the global human population is on target to reach a new milestone: 8 billion people on the planet by November 15, 2022.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

While this staggering figure should alarm even the most casual observer of the various environmental and health crises stemming from the overpopulation that is emblematic of the Anthropocene—like climate change, deforestation, ocean acidification, food and water shortages, plastic pollution, air pollution, biodiversity loss, and the sixth extinction—the UN has advanced a false narrative, trumpeting the “story behind 8 billion and how we’ve got here… [as] a story of triumph,” saying that reaching this milestone is “a cause for celebration” with “infinite” possibilities for growth.

“We must celebrate a world of 8 billion people,” writes Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, the East and Southern Africa regional director for the UN Population Fund, the UN agency tasked with improving reproductive and maternal health. Others are picking up that upbeat messaging.

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