Seven Billion, and counting…

With foundations based upon the inter-connected fortunes of People, Profit and Planet, one of the reasons I like sustainability so much, is recognition of the fact that none of us live in a vacuum. The world is one connected ecosystem, with many parts. Meaning that, while we may like to pretend otherwise, what we do here in Australia, DOES have the potential to affect countries around us, and around the globe.

If you’d like a recent example, just look at the social and financial impacts Qantas meted out to travellers, it’s own bottomline, staff and even tourism, when CEO Alan Joyce grounded the fleet on the weekend. The Australian federal government even became embroiled in the dispute. In his own words, it only took Joyce “eight minutes” here in Australia to stop, disrupt, and inconvenience over 80,000 of Qantas’ own passengers worldwide. Many ramifications of that ‘snap’ industrial action haven’t even been felt, yet.

Like it or not, the vigour of our human society, and our very existence is connected. No one social group or country is completely immune to the potential impacts of another.

Which brings me to the attached 2010 TED talk from Hans Rosling, which I hope you’ll watch.

In the last twenty-four hours, the world’s population has just reached the milestone of seven billion peeps. As always around these big moments in human civilisation, there has been a flurry of activity about it, in all forms of media, exhorting a range of views and opinions. The views are both good and bad, positive and negative.

Regardless of the commentary (mine included), the fact remains that the world’s population has reached seven billion, irrespective of personal opinions or arguments. It’s still quietly ticking over from that total, with more of us human ‘beans’ being born every minute.

It does not seem sustainable, that our global population double every fifty years or so. I’m no scientist, and I think that. Smallish planet, finite resources, limited ‘crawl space’, and no extra-terrestrial fleet sighted on the horizon to whisk anyone away, to date. Need for sustainable solutions and practices? No-brainer!

However, guaranteeing our future is not just about sustainability. A burgeoning population is about more than one country, one race, one issue or solution. It requires a range of initiatives from all affected parties (so, everyone), to positively influence future outcomes for all.

So, for me this milestone is cause to pause and reflect – and think. I’m encouraged to see the issue from different angles, and think laterally. Some people see population growth as a threat to the world, a rampant de-stabilising force. I see it as providing humanity with a raft of opportunities on many levels – to think creatively about creating solutions, to raise people out of poverty, engage investment and investors in new and different ways in creating wealth, and investing in greater social equality across the globe, to name a few.

Whatever your personal situation today, Hans Rosling’s TED talk is an eloquent, user-friendly demonstration that brings up some interesting issues for our future. The world is getting smaller, and social equality (and inequality) is becoming harder to ignore. Australia has its part to play. As Rosling demonstrates so clearly, one of the population growth solutions is contingent upon ending poverty and raising social equality. If nothing else, this 7 millionth person milestone gives us an opportunity to examine and question existing social mores and motivations, challenge and perhaps change our current perspectives about the world around us, as we look to define and influence our future.

We could all just stick our heads in the sand, and wait for someone else, or governments of the world to take care of it. If we do, where will we all be in 2050, I wonder?

Seven billion, and counting…

For more information about Hans Rosling, check here and here

Contributing Writer: Trudi Barclay, Visual Prose


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