A major media storm has erupted about a new scientific paper published in the Lancet claiming that global population will soon peak and decline. The prospect is met with doom and gloom, rather than jubilation. But Jane O’Sullivan finds many reasons to challenge both the claim and its assumed economic threat. By escalating unfounded fears … Continue reading Will global population peak below 10 billion?
In his new book A Planet of 3 Billion, Christopher Tucker presents a vision of a future world inhabited by 3 billion people, compared to 7.8 billion today. Inspired by Joel Cohen’s 1995 book How Many People Can the Earth Support? Tucker sets out to answer exactly this question. The ecological destruction caused by humanity … Continue reading New book argues for a sustainable world with 3 billion people
Societies can avoid a world population of 10.8 billion and related disasters – with education, contraception and emphasis on sustainability. by Joe Bish Human civilization faces a severe long-range mismatch between sustainable food yields and global population size. Some experts suggest a population sized at approximately two people per arable hectare would be ecologically sustainable. … Continue reading Addressing Population Challenge Is Not Impossible
Covid-19 continues to take a great toll on societies around the world. As we struggle to respond appropriately, our societies can emerge ecologically and socially stronger—provided we learn the important lessons this tragedy has to teach us. by Kelvin Thomson In Australia, and I suspect in many other countries as well, there are three key … Continue reading Lessons from a global pandemic
Every year on Earth Overshoot Day, a table becomes very popular, showing the number of Earths needed to be ecologically sustainable if all the people in the world had the same ecological footprint as the average citizens of various countries. This is computed by fixing the world population at the current value and varying the … Continue reading Overshoot day: the other side of the coin
The latest biodiversity strategy from the EU Commission makes some good suggestions for increasing protection for Europe’s dwindling biodiversity. While new, ambitious targets for protected areas and ecological restoration are welcome, the document fails to point out the central role population size will play in whether they are achieved. Through allowing the EU’s human population … Continue reading New EU Biodiversity Strategy Fails to Address a Key Component of the Biodiversity Crisis – Human Numbers
In the Croatian alps, declining human populations have gone hand in hand with expansions of protected lands and resurgent wildlife populations. Large predators are finding their way back to the region now that the anthropogenic pressures have lightened, and rewilding efforts have ensured the comeback of both mountain-dwelling herbivores and large grazers on the adjacent … Continue reading Fewer People = More Wild Nature in Croatia’s Velebit Mountains
The ongoing environmental crisis has prompted philosophers to examine the ethics behind limiting procreation in an overpopulated world. A paper published recently by Greg Bognar of Stockholm University aims to demonstrate that anti-natalist policy stances need not violate procreative liberty and personal autonomy. By Ayaka Paul In his new paper, “Overpopulation and Procreative Liberty,” Professor … Continue reading Autonomy and Overpopulation – Can They Co-exist?
By Jane O'Sullivan Hats off to Paul Hawken, the environmentalist behind Project Drawdown. Three years ago, he published a best-selling book, ‘Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming’. The concept was brilliantly simple. It stripped away the complexity of how to respond to climate change, by cataloguing the hundred most impactful … Continue reading Drawdown: a review of the Review
by Philip Cafaro and Jane O’Sullivan A full-length feature film from Michael Moore and long-time collaborator Jeff Gibbs, first screened last year, has just been released for free viewing on YouTube, garnering over 3 million views in less than a week. While flawed in several ways, it nevertheless makes a valuable contribution to the public … Continue reading Planet of the Humans: New Film Shakes Up a Complacent Environmental Movement
With the ongoing tropical biodiversity crisis, protected areas play an important role for many species. But strict protection can harm local human communities that are reliant on the lands around them for survival. In addition, resources are often lacking to prevent illegal exploitation or hunting in strictly protected areas. Community-managed reserves have been suggested as … Continue reading Can Human Use Be Combined with Biodiversity Protection in the Tropics?
In recent years, some environmentalists have argued that increasing population density is the key to creating sustainable societies. COVID-19 suggests they are mistaken. When increasing density becomes a substitute for setting limits to human numbers and demands on nature, environmental conditions deteriorate. And as usual, poor people and other species wind up paying the price. … Continue reading A lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic on the perils of density
With decreasing populations in parts of rural Europe and marginal agricultural lands being abandoned, Europe is in a strong position to return land to wilderness. At the northern end of the border between Poland and Germany lies the Oder delta, where rewilding efforts on land and in water have contributed to a quick recovery of … Continue reading Restoring Abandoned Land in the Oder Delta Gives New Opportunities for Wildlife in Germany and Poland
This week, we reprint a valuable article by Professor Alon Tal, published in The Times of Israel on 25 March, on the connection between overpopulation and the coronavirus pandemic. Professor Tal explains the relationships between population density, human encroachment on natural areas, and disease transmission, and also the situation in Israel, a densely populated country. … Continue reading The disconcerting association between overpopulation and the COVID-19 crisis
Population growth depends strongly on fertility rates, so it is important to study factors that determine fertility. Despite much research, there is no consensus about the most important factors involved, except that contraceptive use can be effective. Factors correlated with declining as well as increasing or high fertility should be studied simultaneously. Religiosity is potentially … Continue reading Fertility levels in global regions and countries: what is the role of religion?
Fifty years ago, in his 1970 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Norman Borlaug said: “There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort.” Borlaug was insightful, but also a genuinely humble man. … Continue reading From Population to Production: Scientists’ Changing Views on How to Feed the World
Depopulation has led to abandonment of less fertile agricultural lands throughout Europe. Portugal, with its declining population, is a prime example. In the Côa Valley, the abandonment of farmland has been turned into an opportunity for rewilding efforts to create new wilderness. Already the valley has seen the return of many endangered species, such as … Continue reading Fewer people leads the way to rewilding in Portugal
With continued global population growth, contraception and conscious planning for children remain critical moral issues facing today's families, no matter where they are living. Different religions have different views on birth control, and their official teachings influence millions of people’s fertility decisions. Below we take a closer look at the evolution of the Catholic viewpoint … Continue reading The Catholic Church and contraception
Many readers of our blog probably see no problem with “overpopulation,” but we sometimes get negative responses when we use the word, even from colleagues who largely share our views. Why is this so? How should overpopulation best be defined? By Frank Götmark, Jane O’Sullivan and Phil Cafaro In contrast to other organisations dealing with … Continue reading Is overpopulation a dirty word?
Greenwashing typically means conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about the environmental soundness of a company’s products. But governments, too, can be tempted to greenwash, as this week’s blog illustrates. Gary Wockner describes how the city council of Boulder, Colorado has declared a climate emergency, while hiding the increased emissions caused by growth through “creative” … Continue reading Greenwashing growth: Boulder’s climate problem
Last year, TOP researchers published new policy-based population projections for the European Union. In a new companion piece, we explore the impacts of alternative immigration policies on two important EU environmental goals: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and improved biodiversity conservation. We find that in both cases, less immigration, leading to smaller populations, will make … Continue reading TOP publishes new paper on the potential environmental impacts of EU immigration policy
By Jane O’Sullivan, Francesco Ricciardi, Susann Roth For sustainable development, universal wellbeing should be the goal, rather than endless growth. Minimizing further growth in human populations is only part of the solution, but an essential part. Climate change has been described as one of the greatest challenges of our time. But for many Asian countries, … Continue reading Five myths about population, aging and environmental sustainability
Too often, it seems, matters of population are overlooked in discussions of global sustainability. And this is true, despite some rather obvious points: A world of, say, 5 billion people is more likely to be sustainable than one of 10 billion; and a world of 1 billion is likely more sustainable still. All things being … Continue reading The population question: Toward a plan for global sustainability
Brazil's transition from the demographic transition model's stage 3 to stage 4 was fast paced and lacked government intervention. By Pete Bailey This post was originally published on the PopEd blog, see the original post here>> Over the past fifty years, Brazil has seen fertility rates drop from an average of six children/woman to less … Continue reading Why is Brazil a useful model in demographics?
by Phil Cafaro and Frank Götmark Greetings! It’s been a busy year here at The Overpopulation Project. As many of you know, we have an active website, with a new blog almost every week and more invited authors this year. The total number of visitors to our website was 84,848 in 2019, and average monthly … Continue reading TOP wraps up 2019 and prepares for the new decade
by Philip Cafaro In my experience teaching environmental ethics to college students and advocating for sustainable policies in the United States, the biggest obstacle to good discussions about population matters is ignorance about the numbers. How many people live in the United States? My students don’t know. Many environmentalists don’t know. What will the US … Continue reading Know the Numbers! TOP unveils new interactive population projections for the European Union
Promoting contraceptives in fun ways achieved tremendous success towards breaking taboos and clarifying misconceptions. Together with creative community development programs, family planning programs increased the wellbeing of all Thais.
The Overpopulation Project presents the second video in our four-part interview mini-series, an interview with Carl Wahren, a population professional with more than 30 years of experience with various multilateral organizations. Carl was a pioneer in introducing family planning programs in developing countries in the 1960’s, programs supported by the government and agencies in Sweden. … Continue reading Introducing The Overpopulation Project Video Series # 2: Family Planning: Past Lessons for the Future
This past week, TOP researchers Patrícia Dérer and Jenna Dodson organized a successful seminar focused on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. As part of Act Sustainable! Week at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), participants enthusiastically discussed five potential additions to the SDGs: air quality, democratic governments, harmful chemicals, ocean … Continue reading The Missing SDG – what should be added?
Two years ago, over 15 thousand scientists signed the “World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” about our interlocking global ecological crises. This year, 11 thousand scientists endorsed the new “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency”, published November 5th in Bioscience magazine. Will world leaders and citizens take notice, come together, and act … Continue reading World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency – take it seriously!
Researchers at TOP have published new population projections for all twenty-eight member countries of the European Union and for the EU as a whole. These projections differ from the 2019 United Nations’ Population Division projections and other recent projections in two main ways. First, they project a wider range of fertility and migration scenarios farther … Continue reading New EU population projections published
The Overpopulation Project is proud to present the first video in our four-part interview mini-series, an interview with Carl Wahren, a population professional with more than 30 years of experience in various multilateral organizations. Carl was a pioneer in introducing family planning programs in developing countries in the 1960’s, programs supported by the government and … Continue reading Introducing The Overpopulation Project Video Series # 1: The Usefulness of Foreign Aid
Planet earth’s future cannot be bright with 8 billion people: our future depends on how seriously and quickly we change our materialist culture, social organization and technologies. An immediate action plan is offered for the generation centered around Greta Thunberg: young women, and just as importantly young men, should avow not to have children until their … Continue reading A potential pledge: no change, no grandchildren
Mahatma Gandhi said: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed.” What is then the “right” lifestyle, which we all should adopt to be sustainable? It depends on how many people there are on the Earth. Sustainability does not depend only on lifestyle, but also on how many people share … Continue reading Imagine
On the 25th of September, two core members of The Overpopulation Project attended the “Ethical perspectives on population and the sustainable development goals” workshop organized by the Institute for Future Studies in Stockholm, Sweden. At the one-day workshop, we gained valuable insight into how philosophers and political scientists frame the relationship between human population growth … Continue reading Ethical perspectives on population and the Sustainable Development Goals
Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline claims that (a) life on earth is stressed but coping with the present level of human impact; (b) global population will peak in 2050; (c) subsequent population decline will alleviate ecological problems; and (d) countries with populations that are only slowly growing should act now to boost … Continue reading Part 2 Review of “Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline”
This past week, a widely reported article in Science found that since 1970, North American wild bird populations have declined by 30%. In response, conservation organizations banded together to advocate that concerned citizens keep their cats indoors, put tape on their windows, and drink “bird friendly coffee.” This—the massive and continuing decline of wild nature … Continue reading Empty skies, empty words
Rwanda has experienced a 40% increase in contraception use within only the past 15 years. The country is located in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region typically known for its high population growth.1 Despite the large rural population, traditional large family norms and strong influence of the religious institutions, Rwanda is slowly becoming known for its efficient, ongoing … Continue reading Rwanda: A pioneer of family planning in Sub-Saharan Africa
The commentary, “The World and the UN Must Reduce Population Growth,” published two weeks before the 2019 Summit on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, urges global leaders and the UN to acknowledge increasing global population as a serious issue and take action to reduce population growth. By The Overpopulation Project A commentary by TOP project … Continue reading Goal to limit population growth can help achieve SDGs
In a new review article published in the journal Environment, Development and Sustainability, Elias Ganivet reminds us that we need to address both excessive human consumption and population growth, to curb humanity’s environmental impact. Written from a very balanced perspective, Ganivet reviews the impacts of human population growth on global biodiversity and climate change, perceptions … Continue reading An ecologically sustainable future requires addressing both population and consumption