Newborn babies took center-stage last Monday in a global campaign conducted by United Nations officials on Halloween to trumpet the birth of the 7 billionth person in the world. Worldwide, officials declared babies born in their country as the symbolic 7 billionth person. Reporters snapped pictures as babies were greeted with cheers and presents. With the stage set, UN and government leaders then gave statements warning of over-burdening the world with consumers.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon marked the birthday at a press conference at UN headquarters in New York. “Plenty of food, but one billion people go hungry. Lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for too many others,” he stated.
United Nations officials chose Halloween as the milestone birthday despite demographers stating that it is impossible to know the arrival of the 7 billionth person. And it is unclear if they intended to emphasis this on the “scariest” day of the year. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the world’s population won’t reach 7 billion until March of 2012. Other scholars calculate November 2012 and even into 2013 or 2014, since population growth rates are falling in nearly every country.
Careful planning by high-level leaders, however, could not control the timing of the births. Danica May Camacho of the Philippines became the first symbolic 7 billionth baby even though she arrived two minutes before the appointed day. Her early appearance was declared close enough to get the title, allowing the Philippines to get most of the media attention. It is likely UN population bureaucrats chose the Philippines since that country has long resisted the UN’s reproductive rights and population control agenda.
Dr. Eric Tayag of the Philippines’ Department of Health dampened the celebrations. He told Agence France-Presse , “We should really focus on the question of whether there will be food, clean water, shelter, education and a decent life for every child. If the answer is no, it would be better for people to look at easing this population explosion.”
In India, which is struggling with a higher number of males-to-females because girls are selectively aborted, baby girl Nargis was recognized as the 7 billionth person. The birth is “not a matter of joy but of worry,” said the Health Minister of India, Ghulam Nabi Azad. He told The Times of India “We shouldn’t be celebrating. For us a matter of joy will be when the population stabilizes.”
The UN’s “7 Billion” media campaign tees up the issues of population and consumption as it prepares for a global conference on sustainable development. Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Government leaders will meet in June for Rio+20, a conference “to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development.”
David Lam, president of the Population Association of America observed in the LA Times, “In spite of the daunting challenges facing the world, including global warming, rising food prices and a billion people in poverty, the 7-billionth child will almost surely have a better life than the 3-billionth or 6-billionth child.”
In 1999, Adnan Mevic was two days old when then-Secretary General Kofi Annan held him in a Sarajevo hospital and named him the sixth billionth person on earth. This week his mother Fatima told ABC News, “We never heard from the U.N. again. We never received anything from them, not even a birthday card.”
Wendy Wright writes for the Friday Fax of C-FAM.org