By the time you’re out trick-or-treating on Halloween, the planet will have marked an important milestone: As predicted, the world’s 7 billionth person will arrive this year, by Oct. 31, according to the UN Population Fund. It predicts that we’ll hit 8 billion just 14 more years after that—a rapid pace, considering that it took us until 1804 to hit 1 billion then an additional 123 years to get to 2 billion. Even so, “overall, this is not a cause for alarm,” a researcher tells the Globe and Mail. “The world has absorbed big gains since 1950.”
But there are concerns, such as rising prices for energy and food, increasing stress on the environment, and higher levels of malnourishment. “For the rich, it’s totally manageable,” the researcher continues. “It’s the poor, everywhere, who will be hurt the most.” The Population Fund director says this month’s milestone is a call to action, particularly in the area of women’s rights. “There are 215 million women worldwide who need family planning and don’t get it,” he says. “If we can change that, and these women can take charge of their lives, we’ll have a better world.” Click to find out when we’re projected to reach 10 billion.