There are officially 8 billion people living on the planet, according to figures from the United Nations (UN).

The UN has admitted it’s hard to calculate the exact number of people accurately, and the sums could be out by a year or two, but according to estimations the eight billion mark was crossed on 15 November.

What is the United Nations?

A worldwide organisation that brings countries together to talk about and try to agree on world issues.

Why has the population increased so quickly?

World population hit 7 billion just 12 years ago, and experts say the rapid growth is an accumulation of better health, medicine, personal hygiene and nutrition. 

More people are being born and living to an older age thanks to advances in healthcare.

Baby Photo by Jason Sung on Unsplash

The largest amount of population growth has occurred in Asia and India. 

In Asia, their population has increased by 700 million since 2011.

India’s population has increased by roughly 180 million people and is set to surpass China as the world’s most populated nation, for the first time in nearly 2,000 years.

Birth rates in China have decreased since 1980 when the country’s one-child policy was introduced, and more women have also been having children later in life to focus on their education and career opportunities.

Why is it important?

The UN views reaching the 8 billion mark as a success, but it also poses some significant challenges.

More people means there are less resources to go around and so governments will also need to think about the way people and countries use what the world currently has.

This also includes how we are using energy and the impact on climate change if big countries with growing populations continue to use fossil fuels.

Although having more people on the planet will impact the environment, it’s the increase in producing and using materials which cause greenhouse gas emissions which is more damaging.

The UN Secretary, General António Guterres, said: “The milestone is an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet.”

How long will it take to reach nine billion?

Experts say the rate of rapid growth is beginning to slow down.

They expect it to take approximately 15 years, until 2037, for the population to reach nine billion. 

One of the main reasons for this is that people in many parts of the world are having fewer children. 

Asia Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash

In the 1960s five births per woman was the global average, now it’s nearly half at 2.4 per woman.

The UN predicts the global population will rise to around 10.4 billion people in 2080 and remain at that level until 2100.