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As the human population reaches seven billion people, there are reasons for optimism as well as predictions of doom and gloom. Also, Palestine becomes member of UNESCO, and a White House order to speed federal response to drug shortages.

Banner image: Egyptians crowd a popular market in Cairo on October 31, 2011.Photo by Mahmud Hans/AFP/Getty Images

Christian Bordal
Anna Scott
Karen Radziner

Making News Palestine Becomes Member of UNESCO 7 MIN, 49 SEC

The UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a global development agency for promoting literacy, science, clean water and education. Today, UNESCO gave the Palestinian West Bank full membership, causing the US to cut off all funding. That's 22 percent of UNESCO's entire budget. Steve Erlanger is the New York Times' Bureau Chief in Paris, where UNESCO is headquartered.

Steven Erlanger, New York Times (@StevenErlanger)

Main Topic Can Planet Earth Handle Seven Billion People? 37 MIN, 41 SEC

Although the US Census Bureau says it'll happen sometime in March, the United Nations says the world's population will reach seven billion sometime today, creating new challenges for generations to come. The rate of human growth is finally slowing down, and Earth's resources are sufficient for three billion more, depending on technology and distribution. But will all those people be able to urbanize and increase their consumption and waste without creating famine, poverty and an unhealthy environment? We look at what might be in store for the United States, developing countries including China and India and the fastest-growing part of the world, sub-Saharan Africa.

Andrew Revkin, ProPublica (@Revkin)
Joel Cohen, Rockefeller and Columbia Universities
Deborah Seligsohn, World Resources Institute
Patrick French, author

Reporter's Notebook President Obama Addresses Drug Shortages with Executive Order 5 MIN, 30 SEC

A shortage of cancer drugs, anesthetics and other medications has been blamed for patient deaths in the past year, with more shortages predicted for this year. Today, President Obama ordered the FDA to take actions covered by pending legislation. Today's announcement, which came under the headline "We Can't Wait," a familiar phrase as the President campaigns against a Republican-dominated Congress, said he was taking action "to reduce prescription drug shortages and fight price gouging." Maggie Fox is Managing Editor of Technology and Healthcare at National Journal.

Maggie Fox, National Journal


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