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Weekly Roundup: China Teams up with Gates, the Seven Billion Mark and Occupy Oakland

   /   Nov 4th, 2011Weekly Roundup

Population Hits 7 Billion

On Monday this week, the world population ballooned to 7 billion people. News agencies clambered to find that 7 billionth child, finding him again and again in the Philippines, India, Lebanon, UK, the US, and beyond.

A Spanish design company concocted a cool interactive feature to make sense of the number, a visualization of the world’s population expansion  from 1950 onwards.

And, more importantly, this new benchmark led to discussions on the sustainability of our resources.  The Guardian reported on the top resources that are likely to be strained as the population continues to grow: water, natural gas, oil, phosphorous, coal, and rare earth elements. Given the current backdrop of the famine in Africa, organization such as WorldCrops.com commented on food security for a burgeoning population.

Looking forward, the United Nations has estimated that in 2025, the population will reach new heights and hit 8 billion.  But Lynch of FP examines these estimates and questions if we’ll ever level off.  Demography, as he explains, is a tricky game of guessing, with estimates beyond 2040 hard to determine.

And others agree, arguing that the growth since the 50s and 60s has not been exponential.  The WSJ outlines that the growth rate has actually halved since 1960 and is likely to slow down as the focus shifts from “quantity towards quality.”

Two Forces Unite: Gates Foundation and China Partner Up

Gates Foundation announced a new partnership with the Chinese government to tackle public health and agricultural issues on a very large scale.  Details will be released later this week in Cannes at the G20 meeting, but the fundamentals of this high-profile partnership will focus on developing technology for rural areas, innovations in agriculture, and advancements in vaccines and testing for diseases such as TB.

Fast Company explains that this could be a strategic move for China, one of “soft power” for a country that’s been working in developing nations in Africa and South America.  Might it be furthering China’s economic imperialism? Probably, the article suggests, but that might not be such a bad thing.

Occupy Wall Street – Gets Heated and Chilled- In the Same Week

As Occupy Wall Street in New York faced the first winter storm, making it difficult for protesters to gather, Occupy Oakland gained momentum and turned violent as protesters sprayed graffiti, shattered windows, and disrupted local businesses.  Late Wednesday, the city port had to shut down for safety concerns as thousands of protesters converged on the spot.

Local businesses have been conflicted on how to show their support.  While some businesses have closed their doors to show their allegiance, others have remained open due to economic concerns.  Business owners told Time that they couldn’t let go of a day’s salary – it just isn’t financially possible for them, even though they can sympathize with the movement.  Others complained that due to the increased violence and constant activity in the neighborhood, they’ve actually lost businesses, with customers wary of visiting the area.  Ironically, they’ve faced losses as the protests continue.

Weekend Reads

  • The UN Lobby puts on a new exhibit to highlight designs for the Other 90% on the Planet.  The NYTimes reports
  • TIME looks at unemployment in Britain and why the youth of the country are facing the brunt of it. Almost 1 in 5 between the ages of 18 and 24 are out of work in the UK.
  • A new text-based program in India is connecting citizens to government officials. Samadhan is using technology to reduce corruption and increase government accountability while identifying bottlenecks in the system, the WashPost reports.
  • Looking to see where you fit in the socio-economic strata?  NYTimes breaks down with an interactive feature that distinguishes America’s 1% from the other 99%.
  • Forbes reports on a new idea: using light to repel mosquitoes.  Research is already underway to see if this trick could help battle malaria.

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