July 11th is observed by the United Nations as World Population Day. Every year the world’s population increases by approximately 83 million, and even generous estimates expect we will reach 8.6 billion by 2030, and 9.8 billion by 2050.
This year’s theme is “Family Planning is a Human Right.” The United Nations, through the UN Populations Fund, has worked to support family planning by “ensuring a steady, reliable supply of quality contraceptives; strengthening national health systems; advocating for policies supportive of family planning; and gathering data to support this work.”
The populations fund also hopes to assist global leadership in increasing access to family planning, by seeking organizations and governments to develop evidence and policies, and offering “programmatic, technical and financial assistance to developing countries.”
Climate change, waste, and population are all inherently linked. In 2013, it was estimated that increasing global population would generate over 6 million tons of waste per day by 2025. It may sound dramatic, but it is crucial to the survival of our planet that we work together in this fight. If we started acting today, dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars to climate and sustainability initiatives, we might have a chance. We are just starting to implement common sense waste reduction policy, like reducing the use of plastic straws.
But even now, the United States government continues to ignore or undermine these efforts. Representatives in Congress hem and haw over the minuscule, less than one percent of our budget spent on foreign aid, all while supporting asinine measures to continue the American Empire. Our military argues for the existence of the F-35 fighter jet, a logistical and financial nightmare that has cost over one trillion dollars to research and produce, but our government has refused to help the UN population fund, dropping out of it last year.
We also recently saw that the United States would rather protect corporate interests instead of helping others: when Ecuador introduced a measure to the UN to promote breast-feeding worldwide, the United States threatened to start a trade war and drop military aid. Why did we cause so much commotion over a health campaign? Signs may point to lobbying from a handful of American and European baby formula companies.
Is every objection on UN measures from a position of malice? Maybe not, but as the global crisis of climate change continues to grow, it is abundantly clear that the United States has serious issues with priorities.