Celebrate our Amazing Planet with World Population Day

Earth Day might be the oldest environmental holiday, but saving the planet takes more than one day per year. That’s why environmental activists have devised so many other collective actions to remind Homo sapiens to take care of our habitat. In our Celebrate our Amazing Planet series, your kids will learn about the challenges affecting our environment and how they can be part of the solution.

The Gist

Whether it’s fact or simply a convenient estimate, we believe that July 11, 1987 was the day on which the world’s population reached 5 billion. It was a landmark in terms of the crush of humanity, caused both by declining child mortality and consistently higher life expectancies around the world.

Of course, all records are made to be broken, and the 5 billion marker would cease to be remarkable just a few short years later. Today, earth’s total population is around 7.1 billion, and we aren’t even close to being done growing.

A few years after we reached the historic 5 billion mark, the United Nations Development Program established July 11th as World Population Day. The annual event raises awareness about issues surrounding humankind’s continuous surge of growth.

Although “population” in this case means the population of the human race, this is an important environmental date to mark too. Human population growth impacts the rest of the environment by literally changing the face of the earth. The more humans that exist, the more we use water, trees, fossil fuels, and precious resources, contributing to climate change and the decline of animal species.

These climate changes circle back around to affect the human population, contributing to famines, floods, droughts, and other conditions that can lead to a decline in food availability and destroy human habitats and animal populations.

Each year, new themes draw the date’s focus to a different group of people who could have a great impact on curbing population growth. Educating women and girls in the developing world is a major focus, since they often have little access to family planning tools and suffer from extreme poverty, inequality, and maternal health issues, all of which have a major impact on the population.

On the Day

What can you do besides warn your girls against the dangers of teen pregnancy? Join with the United Nations to provide education for your daughters’ contemporaries in developing countries.

Your kids might be shocked to learn that a third of the girls in developing countries are married by the age of 16, and thousands are forced to give birth to babies before the age of 18. Lack of contraception education and resources increases the likelihood that these child brides will become pregnant, and a startling lack of control over their lives and their fates creates a powder keg for population explosion.

Want to adopt one of these teenage or pre-teen girls and give her the ability to stay in school and delay starting a family? Check out the UN’s Population Fund and support their Girl Up initiative, which provides secondary and family planning education for girls around the world.

Sponsor a fundraiser with your kids by doing research on your town and charting its own growth since 1987. Then, compare that with a town or city in the developing world that had around the same population as yours in 1987. Your neighbors and friends will see the side-by-side comparison. It might really hit home.

After the Fact

Gender equality, health, and the environment are three interconnected and important issues wrapped up in World Population Day. Humanitarian and environmental concerns can sometimes be at odds with each other, but this annual event allows people to see how much these concerns are actually interdependent.

When your kids learn about the very different lives their peers all around the world lead because of an event like World Population Day, it helps them become more engaged global citizens who see how necessary it is to do their part as change-makers in society. Whether it’s through a fundraiser or a fact-finding mission, the effects of your involvement will last much longer than the day itself.

Find an organization like Compassion International, World Vision, or any of the hundreds of charities all over the world that allow you to sponsor a child and monitor that child’s progress in school and along their journey to keep connected with the girls and young women who are poised to keep population growth under control.

The Long Run

Gender equality and the education of girls is about more than just population control. Ultimately, the United Nations wants to ensure that every person’s human rights are respected everywhere on the face of the planet, no matter how many people exist on earth. World Population Day is just one way to draw attention to our global problems.

As we learn how to live together more harmoniously and respect both the world’s resources and the world’s people, perhaps population will be something to celebrate more than an ominous warning.

How do you plan on celebrating World Population Day? Share your fun ideas with us!

Tags : celebrations   celebrate our amazing planet   green holidays   world population day   global citizenship   

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