This Halloween, the United Nations declared over the summer, a baby will be born somewhere on Earth who will tip the world’s population over seven billion for the first time. Truly do international bureaucrats have the power of prophecy!
The precision is bunk, of course, or rather a public-relations gimmick. According to demographers, nobody knows the exact population of the world to within 100 million. (Incidentally, the record-setting baby will not be the seven billionth human being to have existed, as some press reports have implied—more like the 108 billionth.)
Nonetheless, the occasion will provide an excuse for yet another round of Malthusian gnashing of teeth about overpopulation. But we shouldn’t let it obscure the real story of the past 50 years, which is not how much faster than expected, but how much slower, population has been growing.
Read More: Who’s Afraid of Seven Billion People?