A child's future depends on where in world they are born

Published 18/06/2013|05:42

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There's a website that I discovered recently which gives real-time world statistics, detailing information on such items as the population of the world, to the amount of people born each day.

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It can be found at www.worldometers.info and if you've a few minutes to spare sometime it's worth taking a look at. The population of the planet currently runs at over 7 billion people and is growing at the rate of 1.15% each year (at the time I was writing this piece the figure stood at 7,122,655,000).

According to the statistics, the population reached the 7 billion mark on October 31 2011, and is projected to reach the 8 billion mark by 2025. Incredibly, the population of the world more than doubled in the past 50 years, when it increased from a mere 3 billion in 1959.

That's an incredible increase in population when you consider the fact that so many die from malnourishment and disease each year, and that 115,00 abortions are carried out each day, or just under 19 million abortions each year.

By this time next year, a child will have been born bringing the world's population to the 7.2 billion mark. Nobody knows where or when this baby will arrive, whether it will be a boy or a girl, the child of a millionaire or - far more likely - the child of a family living on less than a $1.25 a day (the poverty line).

But regardless of where this infant draws its first breath, it will be endowed with the fundamental human rights as any other child Ä to life, to protection, to education, to health care, to an adequate standard of living and more.

There is a catch of course - the chances of them enjoying these birth-rights, and of fulfilling his or her potential, will depend on where this baby is born and to whom - and whether it is a girl or a boy. This baby has less than a 10% chance of being born into relative prosperity, of being born into a life of being able to live relatively comfortable as we do.

On the other hand, the child has a 30% chance of being born into extreme poverty. This child will also find herself in a world where the gap between rich and poor has never been so wide. The richest one fifth of humanity has 82 times the income of the poorest fifth - and consumes 86 per cent of the world's resources.

If the baby is a girl, she will also be worse off than a boy born almost anywhere. She may receive less than her brother when food is scarce, and she will definitely be less likely to start school. Such is the world we live in.

Recently experts in Denmark predicted that half of all children born today in the developed world - in Europe or America for example - will live to be 100 years old.

An aging population will bring its own demands on society, and indeed our welfare and health systems will certainly have their work cut out coping with that eventuality, but it begs a bigger question too. Who wants to live forever? Well they say there's always one, and indeed there is.

A Russian billionaire named Dmitry Itskov believes that technology will allow him to live forever in a hologram body, and he is funding the research to make it happen. The project called the '2045 Initiative' envisages surgically 'transplanting' a human consciousness into a robot body within 10 years and it says it will be able to upload a human mind to a hologram body by 2045.

Itskov said "This project is leading down the road to immortality." Of course, if this project takes off, human reproduction won't be necessary anymore, and we needn't worry about what kind of life the 8 billionth child born in 2025 will have. The mind boggles.

Wexford People

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