Thursday, August 5, 1999 Published at 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
World's population reaches six billion
Every day 237,000 people are born
By BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse
Next Monday a most significant person will be born.
There have only been five other children like him or her. They were born in 1800, 1930, 1960, 1975 and 1987. Notice their births are getting closer together.
According to one estimate, at 1833 GMT on Monday 9 August the six billionth person will enter the world.
There are several estimates as to when this event will occur. Some population counters on the Internet say it happened last month. The United Nations says it will not take place until October.
The human population reached a billion in 1800. Since then the billion marks have been coming at an ever-increasing rate. The five billionth person is 12 years old, the four billionth is 24, the three billionth is 39 and the two billionth is 69 years old.
With the exception of the billionth person, born in 1800, they may all be still alive.
Room to live
Every 24 hours on our planet some 237,000 people are born and 140,000 die. Of course they all require space and resources and a pertinent question is whether the Earth can cope with them.
It was question that occurred to an English cleric, Thomas Robert Malthus, more than 200 years ago.
Some believe that it may happen like this, other say that mankind's ingenuity will always provide the solution to the problems we face.
But as we consider the state of our species just consider what the world would be like if it its population was shrunk to a representative 100 people with all the existing human ratios remaining the same. It would look like something like this:
Will it be the same when the seven billionth person is born in 2012?