October: Population Growth

3 Billion people heard Martin Luther King’s message as he accepted the Planned Parenthood Federation Of America Margaret Sanger Award in 1966. Addressing the crowd, he said;

”Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims.”

Now, 48 years later, the echoes of those words still reverberate loudly across the fragile planet, with their relevance even greater as the world’s population increased by a further 4 billion during that time. And with a projected forecast of 9.6 billion people inhabiting the Earth by 2050, concerns grow over whether the planet’s resources can sustain and house an astronomical amount of people in a world getting smaller and smaller.

Impacting many areas of society including food supply, the economy and energy, one additional parameter is the living conditions of people and the impact an extra 200,000 people has on the world. When asked whether the density of people in an area has a direct effect on the quality of life, 67% of UK citizens surveyed did not believe this to be true. Yet, in countries around the world, humans exist in poverty and disease; yearning for food and plots of land to call their own.

Preempting this spike in population growth is only constructive as long organisations like the UN and world leaders seek to find a solution to provide for the new lives that will be gracing our planet in the near future. So how do you possibly accommodate 2 billion? Will governments have to take inspiration from the world of science fiction and make such concepts as seen in the 2011 video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution whereby the Chinese island of Hengsha had resorted to construct a second street level built atop the ground?

This will become apparent overtime, but before becoming limited on the situation we will find ourselves in in decades to come, the lives of today must take priority. A part of the world grabbing the spotlight this summer was Brazil as they hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but as nations celebrated, the plights of millions of people living in shanty towns called Favelas  were, for the large part, overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

Brazil has the 5th largest population in the world; as of October 2014 that figure is 202,530,176 and rising. As stated on FIFA’s own website, the country where they would stage the tournament is the most densely populated on Earth with 84.21 in habitants per km2 and in the southeast region, almost 80 million inhabit the area; that is almost 40 per cent of Brazilians. Worldometers shows us the statistical data that although the yearly population of the country is falling, population still continues to increase; a contributing factor to why Brazil has the highest urbanisation rate known with 90 per cent.

Source: worldometers.info

Source: worldometers.info

As one member of the public was asked over the situation 11.25 million, or 6 per cent of the entire population live in Favelas- which is comparable to the size of Portugal, a component of this is based on migration,

”The growth of the Favela’s is due to urban migration, people looking for a better life in the cities. The government could probably do more to help these people, although politically and economically it is difficult.”

Volume 220 of Issues: Population Growth & Migration concurs with those words and sites how this will evolve in the future

”By 2030, 5 billion people (over 60 per cent of the world’s population) are expected to live in towns and cities. And while urban settlements have great potential to enrichen life, the speed of their growth has led to immense environmental problems. Some 600 million city dwellers are today without adequate shelter and over 400 million do not have access to the simplest latrines.”

In Rio de Janeiro’s largest Favela, out of the 763 establishments, situated in the south zone of the city, ‘homes are packed together in a sprawling maze of streets and alleys.’ (source: bbc.co.uk) Figures taken from the 2010 census state 70,000 people live in this vast settlement, however it is so overly populated that the unofficial estimate could well exceed 180,000.

The formation of these settlements normally sees the majority of the poorer residents situated higher on the irregular and sometimes hazardous terrain. over population in these areas effects not only the restriction to basic services to the citizens but also  sanitation; because of how Rocinha is constructed it means sewage flows down a channel in the midst of houses.

According to Fiona Hurrell for the Rio Times, she presented findings from the IBGB (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica) report that 22.03 per cent of the 6,323,037 residents in Rio live in Favela’s and these areas continue to grow in total population- up by 27.65 per cent over a ten-year period.

Brazil, known for its passion and vibrance was a fascinating location to stage the World Cup, and all eyes were on the many cities of the country as they watched Germany ultimately lift the Jules Rimet trophy. But after the event was over, what would be the lasting legacy? At the cost of $15-$20 billion dollars, what benefit will those new stadiums, including the new home of Corinthians, the Arena De Sao Paulo which cost $370 million, really bring to the people of Brazil?

Many would argue this wealth of funds should have been invested in a more practical and auspicious manner, with the millions of people living in poverty seeing some investment to improve their way of ask. In a survey taken for the topic of the total cost of the World Cup, all of the interviewees asked agreed that all, if not, some of the $15-$20 billion cost should have been spent differently, especially taking into account many struggling to feed their families, let alone have worries of whether or not they can afford to see Corinthians play at Home.

Yes, many people like Veronica Mora of the Santa Martha Favela in Rio de Janeiro call it home, and even fight to keep living there as authorities appeal for them to leave, citing dangers of landslides endangering their lives. Yet this resolve needs to be matched with the quality of life they have and enjoy for not just them and their family, but for future generations.

Over the years, sport has been known as a vessel to bring people together in issues of importance, and if the legacy of the World Cup raises awareness of those living in the Favelas, and if the economic reward of the tournament finds its way to improve those people’s lives then the World Cup was not just a sporting success but a humanitarian success.

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