If the world were 100 people

World as 100

Print edition : May 31, 2013
This edition of Data Card is inspired by the "If the world were 100 people" concept that the website www.100people.org came up with when the world population reached the seven-billion mark. It is expected to cross nine billion by 2045. Can the planet take the strain?

The rising population raises issues of serious concern, especially for the marginalised sections living in poorer countries. While the richer nations have their own set of problems linked to industrialisation and supersaturated markets, emerging economies such as India, Brazil and South Africa have been unable or unwilling to spread the wealth generated over the past two decades or so equitably.

The poor in several countries of Africa and Asia lead miserable lives. Several studies have shown that hundreds of millions of people in these countries have absolutely no access to food, water and shelter, leave alone health care and education. The survival rates of women and children are way below the global average.

The Age of Man has wreaked havoc on the planet by plundering its resources and leaving vast swathes of land polluted and uncultivable. There is growing urbanisation, leading to a sharp rise in crowded living. This has made lives unsafe for the vulnerable sections, particularly women and children. The consequences of global warming are being felt even in remote corners of the world. Yet, the consumption divide shows no signs of closing.

The world is also marked by increasing conflicts, with the theatres of war still being controlled by the imperialists of the past. Many countries would spend their precious resources on weapons rather than food. The fact that more than 80 per cent of the global weapons production is done in the P5 (the five permanent members of the United Nations) countries seems to be lost on no one.

The wealth of the world continues to remain in very few hands, and with the sweep of the free market economy across the world, governments are geared to and sold on the ideology of neoliberalism, deregulation and massive privatisation of public wealth. In the process they sell the false hope that the benefits of rapid growth will trickle down to the poor.

Sustainability is a word that has become popular in recent years. The planet has the ability to take the strain of the human population, but not when a small section of the population continues to plunder its wealth without paying a price.

Source: “100 People: A World Portrait”, Daily Infographic, National Geographic.