If one looks at the world from space, they will be met with luscious green expanses, bubbling white clouds, and imperceptibly deep-blue waters. From above, the Earth would appear harmless, unassuming, almost as if nothing could go wrong.
On October 31st, the seventh billion person was born.
That person is Danica May Camacho. She was born into a struggling family in an overwhelmingly crowded hospital. Despite her circumstantial conditions, the pregnancy was mostly without complications. Upon her arrival, she was given a cake that read “7B Philippines”, as well as a gift certificate for a free pair of shoes.
Perhaps, though, those shoes and that cake were an apology for unlike any generation before, Danica is faced with crippling uncertainty. Poverty is systematic. Fresh water and food sources are scarce. Energy sources are being drained. Ecological degradation is occurring at an ever-increasing rate. In short, it seems that the world is doomed to peril.
It is not Danica’s fault though; this is for certain. She never asked to be born. None of us ever did. Perhaps if Danica could have chosen, she may have never asked to be born to a world someone else messed up.
That someone else is us. What was once – from the wealth of a planet to the wealth of a bank – is ours to solely claim and consequently dwindle, and what is – from a world that struggles to satisfy its rapidly increasing population – is Danica’s to strain over.
For that, future generations, please accept our apologies.
Such an outcome, though, is not without prediction. Thomas Malthus famously noted that humankind would lead to its own inevitable condemnation. He stated that, “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” This was in 1798. From that day, demographers have been equally eschatological. Currently, the world was supposed to end 242 times.
Here we are. Here Danica is. Here the future still exists, although barely.
For it seems that what has been forgotten in all the systematic models, in all the apocalyptic formulas, in all the harrowing predictions, is humanity’s ingenuity. Granted, it is this same ingenuity that produced such a royal mess, and granted that it is this ingenuity that is telling us that the world is doomed – but it is this same ingenuity that has, and will, bring about solutions.
While it is true much that has been written about this seventh billion birth is the reality check that is needed, and the consequences of humanity’s disastrous climb to its unknown carrying capacity, we have failed to see that the solutions, as well as the problems, are in ourselves.
If it is true that there is power in numbers, imagine if all seven billion of us went out to change the world. If all seven billion of us did something positive, or voiced a constructive opinion, or simply cared for our fellow species, who knows what world the eighth billion baby would be born into?
To do this, perhaps we’d have to set aside our differences, our religions, our cultures, and all else that divides us. Maybe that seems lofty. Maybe not. Though, if a person considers it, they may realize it is by accident that they are a certain religion, it is by accident that they are a certain culture, but it is inevitable that they are human. We all are. It is all we will ever be. If we discard the labels and conceptions, we will find something we have always had: humanity – and in turn, solutions to our own self-imposed destruction.
For the solutions needed to solve the dilemmas we face must help the entire world, not just one culture, one religion, or one nation.
This may never happen. As time progresses, divisions have never been more evident. There exists the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, the intelligent and the dumb, and the able and the inept. So it goes on. The list is long and arduous. To add insult to injury, most of us stand as town callers rather than town doers, as this blog is a painful testimony. As far as can be seen, the world will only get worse both from lack of action and the inappropriate actions we perform. In a way, the end of times – or at least our times – will be caused by ourselves, and the conceptions of what we are supposed to be and do.
As it stands, either humanity will destroy itself or humanity will control itself. Those are the only options. One leads to the end, one leads to a new beginning.
As the cliché goes, change is the only thing that is constant. It may be that as time progresses, we are no longer burdened by what we perceive ourselves to be. We may end, that much is certain, but in our ending, we may become something greater than ourselves: a new beginning of humanity. If so, then the world as we know it may look the same from space, but be entirely different. Instead of looking harmless, unassuming, and as if nothing could go wrong, it may very well be those things.