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Population Rise

RISING NUMBERS People crowd a beach in Mumbai, India, in November. India is a country with high population growth. RAFIQ MAQBOOL—AP

The world population reached 8 billion in November, according to the United Nations (U.N.). This milestone was not unexpected. And it shows some good news: People are living longer, thanks in part to better healthcare. Still, population growth poses a danger in many parts of the world.

A fair amount of the growth has been in the world’s poorer countries, especially in Africa. The trend will strain resources in these places. “The housing, roads, the hospitals, schools—everything is overstretched,” says Gyang Dalyop, who works in urban planning in Nigeria.

Other places with rapid growth include India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Growing populations will make life harder in these places when combined with climate change. Less water and decreased crop production will mean more hungry people.

Experts say the problem lies mainly with richer countries, like the United States and China. These countries consume the most energy and produce the most greenhouse-gas emissions. “Population is not the problem,” says Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development, in Washington, D.C. “The way we consume is the problem.”

Stop and Think! Why is population growth newsworthy? Why might it be a danger? How does climate change contribute to the problem?