Skip to main content

from the editor's desk

8 Billion and Counting

Science Scope—March/April 2023 (Volume 46, Issue 4)

By Patty McGinnis

A few months ago, headlines were announcing the birth of the 8th billionth person born (Le Page 2022), a mere 12 years after the 7th billionth person was born. The rate of growth is astounding when you consider that it took approximately 300,000 years (or until the year 1804) until the human population reached one billion (Welsh 2022). It is interesting that some areas of the world (such as China) are facing a population decrease, while other areas such as Africa are experiencing a population boom (Frayer 2022). Indeed, the world’s poorest countries are both growing the fastest (United Nations, n.d.) and are the most susceptible to the effects of climate change.

What remains unknown is how climate change may impact the population as heat and rising sea levels make some areas uninhabitable (Welsh 2022). More humans on the planet equates to more stress on the planet and its resources. As humans expand into previously uninhabited areas, wildlife is disappearing due to habitat loss, fisheries are negatively impacted both through overfishing and by the effects of climate change, and access to quality healthcare remains unattainable for many. How do we ensure that all people have access to adequate food, clean water, and healthcare? Already a problem for many parts of the world, these pressing issues will become even more so in the upcoming decades.

This issue of Science Scope includes articles that address the impact of humans on the Earth, overconsumption of natural resources, and how natural events—such as volcanoes—shape the decisions of local people. I encourage you to consider applying the lens of the 8th billionth person to the articles. What role does our population play in the consumption of natural resources? What role should society play in addressing the consequences of the human population? How do we ensure access to clean water, healthy food, and quality healthcare for all humans? I don’t have the answer to these questions, but they can spark a thought-provoking discussion for your students.

Patty McGinnis
Editor, Science Scope

Patty McGinnis is an instructional coach and veteran middle school teacher. You can contact her at or on Twitter: @patty_mcginnis.


Frayer, L. 2022, November 15. Earth welcomes its 8th billionth baby. Is that good news or bad news…or a bit of both? NPR.

Le Page, M. 2022, November 8. What will a population of 8 billion people mean for us and the planet? New Scientist.

United Nations. n.d. Day of 8 billion. United Nations.

Welsh, C. 2022, November 14. Earth now has 8 billion people—and counting. Where do we go from here? National Geographic.


News NGSS STEM Middle School

Asset 2