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World population is growing faster than we thought

We’ve all heard the aphorism ‘Lies, damned lies and statistics.’ Statistics are an invaluable tool for understanding and responding appropriately to the world, but when the numbers say one thing and the headlines say another, it’s a cause for concern. TOP takes a dive into World Population Prospects 2022. by Jane O’Sullivan The world’s population … Continue reading World population is growing faster than we thought

3 Women, 2 Countries, 1 Voice for World Population Day 2022

For those times when we feel worn down by the thanklessness of campaigning for population sustainability, it can be uplifting to hear the voices of veteran campaigners whose courage has never wavered. Michael Bayliss introduces us to a conversation to inspire. by Michael Bayliss In the most recent episode of Post-Growth Australia Podcast (PGAP) I … Continue reading 3 Women, 2 Countries, 1 Voice for World Population Day 2022

New publication shows how overpopulation drives biodiversity loss

The concept of human overpopulation, once common, is now rarely used in the scientific literature. Yet overpopulation is a major driver of biodiversity loss and a key obstacle to fairly sharing habitat and resources with other species. A new publication from TOP explores the connections between human numbers and preserving wild nature. by The Overpopulation … Continue reading New publication shows how overpopulation drives biodiversity loss

The United Nations celebrates World Population Day by shaming population ‘alarmists’

Not content with omitting overpopulation concerns from its own rhetoric, in its World Population Day statement the UNFPA has gone on the attack, labelling all concerns about the numbers of humans ‘alarmist’. Jane O’Sullivan takes them to task. By Jane O'Sullivan The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was created in 1969 to act on the … Continue reading The United Nations celebrates World Population Day by shaming population ‘alarmists’

What do citizens of a donor country think drives fertility decline in low-income countries?

In TOP, we have researched what causes the birth rate and family size to fall in developing countries. A major factor has been voluntary family planning programs in countries like Costa Rica, Iran and South Korea. In current academic literature, the dominating paradigm is increased education of women. In developmental aid, “reproductive health” is often … Continue reading What do citizens of a donor country think drives fertility decline in low-income countries?

Influencing politicians to act on population trends: an example from Sweden

To influence societal attitudes and population policy it is important for organizations that understand the population factor to reach out to politicians who can enact necessary changes. Below follows one such example, where the Swedish group Nätverket ‘Population Matters Sweden’ wrote letters to all members of the Swedish parliament, highlighting the need to address population … Continue reading Influencing politicians to act on population trends: an example from Sweden

History was rewritten to delegitimize population concerns: we need to reassert the truth

In the old fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, people denied the emperor’s nakedness because they wanted to be seen as smart. Today people deny overpopulation because they want to be seen as moral. It is a form of virtue signaling: are you for justice and equity and families and being nice to refugees, or … Continue reading History was rewritten to delegitimize population concerns: we need to reassert the truth

Two ways to argue for population’s importance

Here at TOP, we are often asked how we define overpopulation and whether it’s a helpful concept. Good questions! Below I propose a definition of overpopulation, after first considering the suggestion that it’s not necessary or helpful to deploy the term, even —or especially! — if we want to convince our societies to accept good … Continue reading Two ways to argue for population’s importance

What have you learned in school about population? Please tell us!

Many of our readers may have memories from their school years of lessons about population growth – or perhaps memorable situations when population talk was avoided. As far as we know, there are few studies regarding how population is taught around the world. TOP wants to know more about this, whether your memories are from … Continue reading What have you learned in school about population? Please tell us!

The Hidden Dividends of Stopping Population Growth

Ending population growth is necessary to create ecologically sustainable societies. That’s reason enough to do so. But the evidence suggests smaller populations have other important benefits, including more honest and responsive governments and happier citizens. by Kelvin Thomson Most people concerned about rapid population growth are concerned about its impact on our environment, on other … Continue reading The Hidden Dividends of Stopping Population Growth

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