On this day November 15th, according to UN estimates, the global population will reach 8 billion people. This means that the world’s population has climbed another billion in just 11 years, which is unprecedented.
For many, this is a troubling and existential ‘milestone.’ At SPA, we wanted to capture a broader public sentiment regarding what people truly think about 8 billion of us sharing the planet, given that the issue of overpopulation is so often brushed off by the mainstream media.
We invited all Australians who are not current members of SPA to answer the following question:
“In 100 words or less, say what 8 billion people means for the planet, the environment and for you.”
We are delighted to have received dozens of high-quality submissions from a hugely diverse range of respondents, including many school-aged writers. It was very difficult for the judges to make a shortlist due to the high quality of prose, poems and insights that we received. However, a decision was eventually made and below are the winners as well as the shortlisted entries:
WINNER: CLAIRE from QUEENSLAND
“Eight billion people on Earth means Environmental disaster for all on our planet. The pressure on the Environment to house feed and sustain such a huge population is mind boggling. In the past few decades, the natural Environment has had to endure increasing challenges brought about by this continuing population growth.
Earth is suffering because continued population growth is detrimental to every one of us by reducing the finite resources of our planet.”
We believe that Claire has hit the nail on the head and highlighted the main issues with efficient and clear prose. Congratulations to Claire, who wins a $100 gift voucher for this winning entry.
RUNNER UP: ESTHER from NEW SOUTH WALES
“Eight billion people on our planet means:
Eight billion hungry souls we need to feed,
Eight billion producers of carbon greed,
Eight billion people who need a place to live,
Eight billion educations we should try to give,
Eight billion people who must go from place to place,
Eight billion contenders for nature’s limited space,
Eight billion creators of plastic debris,
Eight billion polluters of the air and sea.
Eight billion people is just way too many,
Numbers wise humanity already has plenty.”
Esther, an upper primary student, was one of our youngest respondents. We were impressed by her creative use of poetry and rhyme, and she demonstrates that the issue of overpopulation is a real concern for younger generations. Esther has offered to donate her $50 runner up prize back to SPA to fund future similar competitions.
SHORTLIST: CRAIG from WESTERN AUSTRALIA
“The Global Footprint Network stated that by the 28th July 2022 the planet’s human population had exhausted the “biological resources that Earth regenerates during the entire year.” Therefore, we need to seriously consider what the impact of 8 billion people will be.
A human population of 8 billion people on a planet with finite capacity to provide resources and assimilate waste is not sustainable. Our food system is almost wholly dependent on the inputs of non-renewable inputs such as fossil fuels and phosphorus.
We’ve caused a decline in wildlife populations of 69% since 1970. Biodiversity is key to healthy ecosystems.”
Craig impressed the judges with his thorough, well-researched evidence-based response.
SHORTLIST: MARIA from VICTORIA
“Eight billion humans on our planet impacts each and every one of us and how we live. The quality of our planet’s finite resources of clean water and quality topsoil to sustain the life of all species is impacted, due to overwhelming human population. Animal husbandry and intensive farming has caused diseases, changed the environment and natural topography. Pollution, climate change and stress on our planet is evident. It is our moral responsibility to act, educate and reverse as much as we can, before it is too late.”
Maria’s response was also very insightful, highlighting the multiplying impact that population has on industrial farming and on other species.
YOUNG WRITER HONOURABLE MENTION: YANMING from SOUTH AUSTRALIA
“If there were 8 billion people on earth, then there won’t be that much food, and hard for everybody to survive on earth, and perhaps there will be up to more than 10 billion people because people could get babies and then grow up. And also people need work harder for more houses. The world would get more and more squishier. And the world’s sound would get louder maybe. But it could be easier to make friends.”
Yanming is a year 1 student from Marryatville Primary School in Adelaide. The judges were very appreciative of the unique and insightful perspective on a complex issue from such a young writer. Congratulations Yanming!
YOUNG WRITER HONOURABLE MENTION: ZHIZHAN from SOUTH AUSTRALIA
“Eight billion people is too much, and I know for a fact that lots of people agree. More people mean essential things like food and water become more costly. This will ruin not only our lives but also the planet and environment! We are all worried about our resources, food and things we love!
I’ve had enough of the overpopulated world. It’s unfair to all living things that we’re not doing anything to act on it. We should have a plan to control the growth of population. We have to act NOW!”
Another student entry from South Australia, the Judges felt Zhizhan’s palpable concern over 8 billion people and his call for urgent action. Definitely deserving of an honourable mention.
Please join us in congratulating all these wonderful shortlisted entries from informed, concerned, passionate and talented Australians.
Want to know what else SPA has been doing for Eight Billion Day?
Read our briefing note: “8 Billion Day facts and myths: A guide to the 8 billion global population milestone on 15 November.”
Read our media release: “Eight Billion Day a cause for concern, not celebration.”
Our media alert has resulted in significant media attention, including talk-back radio as well as upcoming mainstream print and TV interviews with national president Jenny Goldie and Dr. Jane O’Sullivan, who authored our briefing note.
You may also be interested in an article at Independent Australia: “Population almost 8 billion: Pressures on the planet? Countless.” Authored by Communications Manager Michael Bayliss.
The latest episode of the SPA supported Post-Growth Australia Podcast discusses Eight Billion Day in the first 30 minutes of the episode. Co-hosted by Michael Bayliss and Mark Allen from Town Planning Rebellion (TPR)