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Breaking boundaries but not population taboos

The book Breaking Boundaries by Johan Rockström and Owen Gaffney explains the basics of how the Earth works and how humanity is rocking the boat, ecologically speaking. While describing monumental challenges, it views the future with optimism. Despite having a chapter dedicated to population, it fails to acknowledge how larger global populations reduce our chances … Continue reading Breaking boundaries but not population taboos

Population commitments under the Paris climate accord

Under the Paris Agreement of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the nations of the world have made pledges known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). These represent countries’ proposals to adapt to and mitigate (limit) global warming. A new publication assesses the NDCs’ treatment of population growth and family planning. by The Overpopulation … Continue reading Population commitments under the Paris climate accord

Religion, Fertility and Contraceptive Use in Sub-Saharan Africa, Part 6: Progressive Religious Organisations

While contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa is still considered taboo in many religious settings and children are viewed as a “gift from God”, some religious leaders are actively promoting the importance of family planning and considering its role in population growth. In this last part of our series on religion, fertility and contraceptive use in Sub-Saharan … Continue reading Religion, Fertility and Contraceptive Use in Sub-Saharan Africa, Part 6: Progressive Religious Organisations

On Threats and How to Prevent Them

Threats that humanity faces today are planetary in scale. That and their menacing character require long-term thinking and preventive politics to deal with or, better yet, prevent them. This may require planetary governance that unites humanity for mutual protection. by Jan Greguš, Masaryk University, Czech Republic  Few would have believed five or ten years ago … Continue reading On Threats and How to Prevent Them

Population in the IPCC’s new mitigation report

A new IPCC climate change mitigation report confirms that population increase and economic growth are the main drivers of today’s historically high greenhouse gas emissions. But that scientific information has been censored and removed from the Summary for Policymakers distributed to the world’s press and the public. Does a problem disappear if we don’t mention … Continue reading Population in the IPCC’s new mitigation report

Ukraine war: temporary glitch or tipping point?

Almost everyone reading these words hopes for a quick resolution to the war in Ukraine. But, with population growth straining global food systems, what might Russia’s aggression mean for global agricultural production and humanity’s ability to feed itself going forward? by Jane O’Sullivan Back in 2015, the insurance underwriter Lloyds published a wake-up call for … Continue reading Ukraine war: temporary glitch or tipping point?

A new approach for defining optimum population size

The concept of optimum population size is nothing new, but in recent decades the methodology used to calculate it has seen little development. In a recently published book, We Zijn Met Te Veel (Dutch for We Are Too Many), a new approach is proposed for calculating optimum population size. by Fons Jena In the available literature … Continue reading A new approach for defining optimum population size

Nine strategies to stop short of 9 Billion – ten years on

In 2012, as the human population reached 7 billion, Robert Engelman, President of the Worldwatch Institute, advanced 9 strategies to halt global population growth. He suggested that humanity had to stop short of 9 billion to accomplish environmentally sustainable prosperity. Ten years later, we have added 800 million people, corresponding to an annual increase of … Continue reading Nine strategies to stop short of 9 Billion – ten years on

Do Childfree People Have Better Sex?

The evidence suggests they do, according to a new book just published this month. It argues that living without children means rebelling against social expectations and is therefore a feminist decision. Also, that women who decide not to have children are the courageous pioneers of a movement that needs support if our planet is to … Continue reading Do Childfree People Have Better Sex?

Religion, Fertility and Contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa, Part 5: Views and Opinions of the Local People

While statistical analyses of data can paint a picture of contraception and fertility trends in Sub-Saharan Africa, much can also be learned from speaking directly with citizens. In Part 5 of our series, we examine focus group discussions and in-depth interviews conducted by researchers with local groups across Sub-Saharan Africa. From such work, one gains … Continue reading Religion, Fertility and Contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa, Part 5: Views and Opinions of the Local People

A Foundation on the Right Track

One of the biggest obstacles to addressing overpopulation is the ignorance and timidity of most environmental funders regarding population issues. So we were happy to recently come across the following text on the website of the Colcom Foundation, a major environmental foundation out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Particularly welcome are the direct links they draw … Continue reading A Foundation on the Right Track

Defining Overpopulation

A recent book introduces a new approach to the science of overpopulation. We Zijn Met Te Veel (Dutch for We Are Too Many) explores a new theoretical foundation for the concept of overpopulation and explains why a smaller human population is a necessary – but not sufficient – condition for a more hospitable world. by … Continue reading Defining Overpopulation

The Making of 8 Billion Angels

8 Billion Angels is a rare full-length environmental film focused on population issues. Producer Terry Spahr joins Phil Cafaro for a discussion of the making of this fascinating film in an episode from season two of The Population Factor.  by the Overpopulation Project 8 Billion Angels is both visually stunning and thought-provoking. If you haven’t … Continue reading The Making of 8 Billion Angels

Old Italy

Low birth rates and an aging society are recurring subjects of national debate in Italy. Pundits, politicians and religious leaders regularly issue warnings about "empty cradles" and demographic decline. Does Italy really have an aging problem? By Gaia Baracetti Italians have a special reverence for their Constitution. It was written after the most traumatic time in … Continue reading Old Italy

Humane Families: Towards Existential Justice and Freedom

The act of having children is interpersonal rather than personal, however, it has long been treated as a personal and isolated decision. This dysfunctional parent-focused model is at the heart of our ecological crises and was created by governments to ensure population growth and evade collective responsibility to invest in kids and our ecological communities. … Continue reading Humane Families: Towards Existential Justice and Freedom

Religion, Fertility and Contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa, Part 4: African research and policy in Nigeria

African researchers have done excellent work to clarify how religious affiliation influences the use of contraception. In Nigeria, with high fertility and a large and growing population, use of modern contraception is still low. The teaching of Islam in particular, contributes to this situation. Several researchers emphasize that men and religious leaders should be involved … Continue reading Religion, Fertility and Contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa, Part 4: African research and policy in Nigeria

Aid needs to go where it will help most

Development aid often fails to address the root causes of poverty in poorer nations. A recently proposed program to further sexual and reproductive health in Uganda provides a welcome example of a more focused and effective approach. by Kelvin Thomson When I began full time work 45 years ago, I started paying a monthly sponsorship … Continue reading Aid needs to go where it will help most

Subsidies for large families in Sweden impair integration of immigrants

The family supplement, which gives extra financial aid for each additional child, was implemented in Sweden in 1982 at a time of falling birth rates. It now contributes to lock-in effects for immigrant women. Abolishing this supplement and limiting the child allowance to the first two children would help reduce social exclusion and public spending, … Continue reading Subsidies for large families in Sweden impair integration of immigrants

Thanks for a great year

OK, ‘great’ may be an overstatement given the ongoing coronavirus epidemic and generally awful environmental news. Yet here at TOP, we are grateful for the opportunity to study the impacts of overpopulation and advocate just means to address it. We’re grateful for your continued interest in and support for our work, some of which we … Continue reading Thanks for a great year

Ethicists recognize that limiting population growth is key to addressing climate change

Faced with the reality of global climate change and its devastating impacts, climate ethicists have begun to address the role of population and the need for limits to growth. A new review article reports on this welcome development. by Philip Cafaro During the past 30 years of extensive political debate about global climate change, participants … Continue reading Ethicists recognize that limiting population growth is key to addressing climate change

Why Europeans are worried about African babies

Any time a Westerner expresses preoccupation about very high birth rates in a poor country, the conversation immediately turns to racism. Let's dig deeper. by Gaia Baracetti Let's not start with Prince William for once. Let's begin with the great Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli. He was one of those rare rural poets who actually knew … Continue reading Why Europeans are worried about African babies

The “Silent Lie” in Coverage of Madagascar’s Famine

Graphic media coverage of the current hunger in southern Madagascar is not wasting the opportunity to advocate climate justice. But nobody mentions there are now seven Madagascan mouths to feed for each one present in 1950. This denialism is not in the interests of the hungry, nor Madagascar’s disappearing wildlife, argues Madeline Weld. By Madeline … Continue reading The “Silent Lie” in Coverage of Madagascar’s Famine

The decision to forego childbearing

Should you bring children into a crowded and ecologically declining world? More and more young people are asking themselves this question. One woman explores her personal choice in a global perspective.  by Gaia Baracetti It's definitely a thing now. Here in the West at least there seems to be an almost incessant flow of articles … Continue reading The decision to forego childbearing

Religion, Religiosity, Fertility and Contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa: Part 3, A Study of Christian Denominations in Mozambique

How does affiliation with different Christian denominations influence fertility? In a study1 from a Christian high-fertility area in Mozambique, Victor Agadjanian and Scott Yabiku examine fertility from two perspectives: dynamically, by looking at risks of births in any given year, and cumulatively, by the number of children ever born versus length of membership in a … Continue reading Religion, Religiosity, Fertility and Contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa: Part 3, A Study of Christian Denominations in Mozambique

Just population policies for an overpopulated world

After three decades of neglect, more environmentalists are waking back up to the need to limit human numbers. But like Rip Van Winkle, we find that the world changed while we were asleep. There are now billions more people, consuming more than ever, while our world has grown warmer, tamer, and more polluted. A new … Continue reading Just population policies for an overpopulated world

Limits to Sustainability, Population, and the TEDx Experience

A recent TEDx talk delves into our species' reverence for economic and population growth, which is pushing us - and the natural world – outside our safe operating space. In 'Limits to Sustainability', João Abegão attempts to communicate the expanding footprint of our species by comparing it with transformations suffered by past complex societies. By … Continue reading Limits to Sustainability, Population, and the TEDx Experience

Pro-natalism: The role of the Vatican

Those of us who care about overpopulation need to pay far more attention to the powerful pro-natalists who are coaching or instructing people to have more children. Religion is obviously a big factor, although not the only one, and there has been much coverage of evangelical Christians. Much less has been written about the Catholic … Continue reading Pro-natalism: The role of the Vatican

Glasgow follies

This coming weekend, representatives from 196 nations will gather in Glasgow for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. Failure is assured, since addressing the fundamental causes of climate change isn’t on the agenda and all proposed national commitments are voluntary, with no penalties for not living up … Continue reading Glasgow follies

Move Upstream

Environmental organizations around the world are often stuck treating symptoms, rather than addressing the root causes of environmental problems. Author and naturalist Karen Shragg joins Phil Cafaro for a new episode of The Population Factor to discuss how “moving upstream” could reinvigorate a tired environmental movement. by The Overpopulation Project As representatives from the nations … Continue reading Move Upstream

Religion and Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa – Part 2, Differences Among Denominations

Among the eight regional groups used for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), only Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is projected to sustain a rapid population growth up to 2100, while the seven other regions either have started to decline, or are projected to stabilise, by 21001. In SSA, many countries have a young population; 40-50% … Continue reading Religion and Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa – Part 2, Differences Among Denominations

Should the right to procreate eclipse future generations’ interests entirely? Book review of “Under the Sky We Make” by Kimberly Nicholas

Under the Sky We Make is an excellent exploration of what needs to be done to fight climate change. Its author succeeds in the difficult task of inspiring the desire to act. Yet she ignores the importance of reversing population growth, missing an important opportunity to educate readers on a key aspect of climate disruption … Continue reading Should the right to procreate eclipse future generations’ interests entirely? Book review of “Under the Sky We Make” by Kimberly Nicholas

Religion, religiosity, fertility and contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa – Part 1, Introduction to studies of religion

How important is religion and belief in the supernatural for family life, contraceptive use, fertility, and family size? Presumably many of our readers have considered the role played in high-fertility societies by the belief that “children are God’s will”. In this blog series based on a literature review1, we focus on Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and … Continue reading Religion, religiosity, fertility and contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa – Part 1, Introduction to studies of religion

Lower birth rates and an aging population can help heal Asian economies

Slowing population growth can have broad benefits for society, including enhancing the many ways that older citizens enrich our communities. By Jane O'Sullivan and Susann Roth As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt people’s livelihoods through a second year, a lot of people are choosing to defer having children. Media stories lament a ‘baby bust‘ … Continue reading Lower birth rates and an aging population can help heal Asian economies

The Population Factor returns for a second season

The Population Factor, the show hosted by The Overpopulation Project's own Phil Cafaro, returns with a second season, starting off with a discussion about the Nature Needs Half proposal. by The Overpopulation Project Wildlife populations are dwindling rapidly across much of the world and the number one cause is habitat loss, driven by excessive human … Continue reading The Population Factor returns for a second season

Reconciling human demands with planetary boundaries: a new approach to quantifying sustainability at the national and global levels

Human population grows, Earth doesn’t. A certain environmental impact is needed to satisfy basic human needs. When multiplied by a huge population, even a small average individual impact can become high, overshooting planetary boundaries. Achieving both environmental sustainability and high human development is hence a challenge. Can we win this challenge without considering the population … Continue reading Reconciling human demands with planetary boundaries: a new approach to quantifying sustainability at the national and global levels

The most ethical gift: Towards a sustainable demographic future

Demographic changes are not immediate, but rather take a long time to happen. In an article originally posted in The Ecological Citizen, Joe Bish argues that the population discussion needs to be reframed as an  imperative to achieving a long-term sustainable civilisation, rather than an overriding priority for near term goals. By Joe Bish The … Continue reading The most ethical gift: Towards a sustainable demographic future

The demographic fantasies of the IPCC

Climate change is now unequivocally an emergency according to the latest report from the IPCC. Our only hope lies in extremely rapid abandonment of fossil fuels and reversal of forest loss. But these lifeline scenarios also assume birth rates plummet in high-fertility regions. Jane O’Sullivan offers a reality check. By Jane O'Sullivan The Intergovernmental Panel … Continue reading The demographic fantasies of the IPCC

Why we must become fewer people and consume less – and suggestions to improve the situation

The mainstream media rarely report about the role of population growth in environmental and climate disruptions, but the Op-Ed below was actually published in the high-circulating Swedish Social Democratic newspaper Aftonbladet a week ago. The original Swedish text is available here. The article gives a broad overview, ending with an unusual suggestion. There were 250 … Continue reading Why we must become fewer people and consume less – and suggestions to improve the situation

Students view human population growth as a threat to biodiversity

In their curriculum, university students in biology and environmental sciences rarely learn how human population growth affects the environment, or discuss its role relative to other factors. Human activities are often dealt with in courses, but not population increase. One exception, described below, comes from a Swedish ecology class that learned about and discussed how … Continue reading Students view human population growth as a threat to biodiversity