Volume 93, Issue 25

Thursday, October 14, 1999


Council reallocates fallen VP's portfolio

Western asks city for $10 million

Dial-a-glitch soon fixed

Ottawa may pull plug on exam tool

Now serving number six billion


Caught on Campus

Bass Ackwards

Now serving number six billion

By Nina Chiarelli
Gazette Staff

All the world was watching Tuesday as a newborn Bosnian was named the six billionth person to inhabit the earth.

The United Nations decided last month that Tuesday would be the symbolic day when the six billionth human would be born, explained Roderic Beaujot, professor of sociology at Western.

"There's a two year window," Beaujot said, adding the event was symbolic rather than accurate, as there is no way to be sure this child is actually the six billionth person. "It's an estimated number."

The world's population has doubled from three million to six million since 1960, Beaujot explained, resulting in a swelled population. "The world's population is expected to top off at 10 billion in 40 years," he said.

Beaujot added global annual population growth has been on the decline. "We hit a peak rate at 2.04 per cent in 1965, but in 1998 the rate was only at 1.33 per cent," he said.

Though the earth's population is expected to nearly double while teenagers of today are still alive, Beaujot said the earth is quite capable of sustaining the increase.

Terry Sicular, professor of economics, agreed. "Ten years ago people were worried about this amount [of people]," she said. "We're surprisingly creative."

Sicular explained people are resources as well as consumers. "Some of the countries that have been very successful are highly dense areas. Population density and growth aren't going to be overriding obstacles," Sicular said. "It's whether those people can be employed resourcefully."

The most alarming thing about the rapid growth of the world's population is the impact on the environment, Sicular said.

"The United Nations is severely limited in the things they can do," said Edward Ebanks, professor of sociology. "It is something we have to think about." He added at the very least, the basic necessities of life need to be provided in order for the world to sustain current health standards.

"We have lots of food and water in Canada, but what about Haiti and the African countries? If [the world] was a single country it would be okay, but that's not the situation," Ebanks said, adding an important aspect of sustainability is political divisions.

With respect to Canada, all three professors agreed the country could be doing more in terms of research and aid for population and development programs. "In the case of Canada, our support for population programs has been declining," Ebanks said.

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