Efforts to specify the optimal human population on Earth are as complex as they are controversial. A recent book from Cambridge University economist Sir Partha Dasgupta develops a theoretically rigorous approach to this perennial question, finding that an optimal human population might range from 500 million to 5 billion. by Phil Cafaro It is gratifying … Continue reading What is the optimal human population? An eminent economist weighs in
"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right" I. Asimov In the outstanding film “A life on our planet”, Sir David Attenborough tells us which actions we need to implement to avoid a future catastrophe. His plan is feasible and affordable: we already have all the knowledge and technology required … Continue reading ‘A Life on Our Planet’: Attenborough’s recipe and human reluctance — Chronicle of a failure foretold
The current economic system in Australia is a Ponzi scheme based on maintaining positive GDP through migration. Populations of native species are plummeting and people are faced with increased job insecurity and housing costs, all of which are side effects of the Australian government's ongoing drive for an ever increasing population. by Kelvin Thomson In … Continue reading Australia’s Population Ponzi Scheme
Since the fall of the Eastern bloc, both Ukraine and Romania have seen their populations shrink. Driven by rural to urban migration, low fertility rates, and substantial emigration, the depopulation in the Danube Delta region has opened up large areas to rewilding efforts. With a history of irrigation and altered river dynamics, restoration and reintroduction … Continue reading A Decreasing Population Furthers Rewilding Efforts in Romania’s and Ukraine’s Danube Delta
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
TOP assisting researcher, Patrícia Dérer, was recently interviewed for the Hungarian newspaper, 444. The article, shortened and translated to English, includes highlights from her interview where she discusses the conditional nature of population projections, the link between population and biodiversity, the declining population of eastern Europe, successful family planning programs, and much more. By Zsolt … Continue reading More and more people living on the planet is cause for concern
Costa Rica is a country of exceptionally rich and well-protected biodiversity. It is a solid democracy where people live long, relatively healthy and happy lives while leaving a small ecological footprint. Together with its good and improving environmental performance and overall well-being, the country is characterized by a below replacement fertility level, the lowest in … Continue reading Family Planning for forests and people – the success story of Costa Rica
A new United Nations report on biodiversity was released this week with much media coverage. Scientists and mainstream journalists seem unwilling to address the fundamental drivers of biodiversity decline, but public response suggests transformative change is gaining traction. By Jenna Dodson This week, many media outlets are covering the pre-release of a new United Nations … Continue reading Civilization extinguishing biodiversity, where are the viable alternatives?
In the 1960s and 70s, South Korea experienced one of the fastest fertility declines in the world, halving the number of children born per woman from over 6 to less than 3 in just 18 years. In large part, this was due to early government recognition that fertility reduction is a component of development, a … Continue reading Low fertility in South Korea: a springboard for social change and conservation
By Phil Cafaro Steve Irwin. Errol Flynn. The Sydney opera house. Kangaroos. Wombats. Here at TOP, we hardly need new reasons to love Australia. Yet last week, we came across two more: articles by Dr. Harry Recher and Dr. Freya Mathews that we somehow missed when they were first published several years ago. They do … Continue reading Two more reasons we love Australia
By Massimo Livi Bacci Four population-driven threats to space If from abstract principles and paradigms of my previous article (Malthus, forever?), we turn to the real, contemporary world, we may say that the rapidly expanding world population also has other consequences – beyond the reduction of “pristine” space – that may adversely affect the quality … Continue reading Four compelling reasons to fear population growth
By Patrícia Dérer The primary cause of the global biodiversity crisis is human-induced alteration and loss of natural habitats1. One of the most important causes of habitat destruction is housing growth, manifested both in rural and urban sprawl. The impacts of housing growth derive from both building human dwellings and their associated infrastructure such as … Continue reading Housing growth threatens biodiversity – are we ignoring fundamental causes?
By Jane O’Sullivan Why would an organisation dedicated to protecting natural areas and to saving wild animals turn its back on arguably the biggest threat? WWF used to highlight human population growth, but not anymore. Populations of wild animals have declined, on average, by 60% since 1970. This alarming statistic was announced in WWF’s 2018 Living … Continue reading WWF Living Planet Report 2018 – “aiming higher”, but not on target
TOP believes there is no better video presentation on the consequences of overpopulation than Sir David Attenborough’s RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) President's Lecture. The well-known British naturalist delivers an impressive speech explaining why population growth is a multiplier of every environmental problem. Given that the Earth has physical limits, “sustainable … Continue reading People and Planet – Sir David Attenborough’s take on overpopulation
The Overpopulation Project announces the Human Overpopulation Atlas, written by João L.R. Abegão. The Atlas is the extended masters thesis of the author in Ecology and Environment at the Department of Biology of the University of Porto in Portugal. This broad review work synthetizes knowledge about the past, present and future of human overpopulation. In … Continue reading Announcing the new Human Overpopulation Atlas
Our blog about Factfulness led to comments, discussion and finally a response from one of its authors (note: the book is written in Hans Rosling’s voice and is the joint work of Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnblad; Hans Rosling died in February, 2017). Ola Rosling states that he welcomes our criticism and … Continue reading Can the book “Factfulness” be improved?
by Jenna Dodson How much of the planet should we leave for other forms of life? How much of the planet can the 7.6 billion present-day human inhabitants utilize without sacrificing the well-being of future generations? These are important questions with far reaching implications for all species, Homo sapiens included. People are placing unprecedented demands … Continue reading Space for Nature
By Patrícia Dérer Thirty countries around the world have declining human populations. With the exception of Japan, these are European countries that, along with the rest of Europe, have successfully undergone the “demographic transition”. Impressive achievements in health care, education and economic development have resulted in lower child mortality and longer life expectancy, leading to … Continue reading Rethinking depopulation and land abandonment – the opportunity of rewilding
by Frank Götmark This year Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnblad (below the “Rosling team”) published “Factfulness” (Note: H.R. died in February 2017.) As the book to a large extent is about global population and as Bill Gates is giving free copies of it to college graduates in the US, we need to … Continue reading ”Factfulness”: a more accurate title for this new book would have been ”Selecting Facts to Make You Happy”
By Patrícia Dérer We are entering the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, the first to be caused by humans1. Extinction rates are several orders of magnitude above normal. Humanity has managed to exterminate more than 300 vertebrate animals in modern times, the IUCN estimates that half the globe's 5,491 known mammals are declining in … Continue reading A key driver of the biodiversity crisis is poorly evaluated: population size