One of the best books of 2010: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. I wasn't alone. It earned rave reviews and reached a mass audience. Even Oprah even brought it to her book club. I only mention this because the protagonist is concerned with a challenging topic that doesn’t get enough attention: Population growth.
"One of the characters in the book has a bee in his bonnet about world overpopulation, and he points out, rightly, that pretty much every serious problem we have in the world is, if not caused by too many people, certainly aggravated by it," Franzen said. "And he’s frustrated in the book because it’s become kind of a taboo thing, nobody will talk about it, it’s the elephant in the room."
The room just got smaller and the book more timely. The United Nations announced yesterday the world's population will reach an historic 7 billion people on Oct. 31, 2011. In 1804, the world population hit 1 billion and it took 123 years to add the next billion. However, it took less than a century for the next four billion. That means we went from 2 billion people in 1927 to 6 billion people in 1999. The U.N.'s Population Division also projected that the world will reach just over 10 billion by 2100.
How do we balance growth? How do we accomadate human lives with the planet's limits?