Have you noticed more people walking, driving, and standing around nowadays? Well you should, because there are a lot more people on this planet today than there was at the beginning of this century. How many more people you ask? In 1900 the population was estimated at 1. 5 billion. On October 12, 1999 the population hit six billion. This date is referred to as "Y 6 B" or "The Day of Six Billion." Just to give you an idea, one billion is equal to one thousand million. When the math is done, we come up with the number six thousand million.

Are the numbers clear yet? The numbers have major significance and seem to be an accomplishment of human ingenuity, but they also raise questions. How many people can this planet support? Is the planet and the current population prepared for the next six billion people to come? These are all good questions, only to be answered with time. I believe that we need to take initiative to keep the population from growing out of control. Why is the population growing at such an enormous rate? Well, the sheer number of people on this planet is the main cause. A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report says that one-sixth of the people on this planet are of the ages 15-24 - the prominent childbearing years. 1 People are also living longer.

"Since 1950, average life expectancy has risen from 46 to 66 years." 1 This means people are aging on the planet longer than ever. Even though the birth rate has fallen from "on average 6. 5 to 2. 2 children per family," 2 the number of women producing children on this planet is enough to keep the population growing. "The number of women in their childbearing years in developing countries is now growing by about 24 million each year." 2 According to the UNFPA, the global population has quadrupled this century. To prevent the population from exploding, precautionary measures need to be taken.

Human intellect and technology must also be implemented to help control population growth. Humans have the most complex brains of all species upon this planet. Ideas and innovations will arise that will allow us to realize what needs to be done in order to control population growth. Technologies such as the one that created birth control are the precursors to the technologies of the future. Scientists and biologists around the world are currently working on projects that will allow us to control the population. Educating people on family planning and birth control is a primary factor in limiting population growth.

Based on the recent history of fertility and population growth, the challenge is not to reverse the current population trends, but to accelerate them. If current trends in population growth, family size, fertility, and family planning use are supported, global population growth may slow down entirely. The population growth has not slowed by chance. It has slowed because more couples than ever before want to plan their families. 3 Government and private organizations are also struggling to provide the knowledge and means to plan families effectively. "Once birth control and family planning are implemented by the people on this planet, population growth will not be as major a concern." 3 I must agree that birth control and family planning are necessary to curb population growth.

People of the world need to realize the magnitude of our situation. A steadily increasing population contained within a limited amount of space is bound to run out of territory and resources. Birth control and family planning should be instituted wherever possible. Where it isn't possible, education on methods to control population should be taught. Hopefully these practices will save us from overtaking ourselves..