Six Billion People... and Counting

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You probably missed it, but this past Sunday evening the U.S. Census Bureau’s world population clock ticked past 6 billion. The United Nations is giving it a little more time, anticipating that the population milestone will occur sometime in October. No matter who's right, the number is still staggering. "Six billion is a reminder that our planet is getting more crowded at an exponential rate and that we still have no idea whether the global food supply and other resources will keep pace," says TIME science contributor Fred Golden.

TIME United Nations correspondent William Dowell reports that the most recent findings of the U.N.’s Human Development Report are not encouraging. Though the study indicates that global per capita income has tripled overall in the past 50 years, it also shows that 80 countries now have per capita incomes lower than a decade ago. What's more, the income gap between rich and poor nations has doubled since the 1960s. Amazingly, the assets of the world’s top three billionaires now total more than the combined national product of the least developed countries where 600 million people live. The report also states that nearly 1.3 billion people have no access to clean water and must live on less than one dollar a day. "The world’s resources are inequitably distributed and we are reaching a crunch," says Dowell.