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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The moral case for population reduction

A frequent assumption in population policy debates is that stabilizing populations will be sufficient to achieve ecological sustainability. But as Karin Kuhlemann observes, “that a population’s size is stable in no way entails sustainability. It may be sustainable, or it may be far too large.” A recent book from philosopher Trevor Hedberg convincingly argues the … Continue reading The moral case for population reduction

An Environmental Impact Statement on US Immigration Policy

What impact does US immigration policy have on greenhouse gas emissions, habitat preservation, or water and air pollution? Episode six of The Population Factor on Earthx TV addresses these questions, while episode seven, the final episode of season one, discusses how declining human populations open up new opportunities for ecological restoration. by The Overpopulation Project … Continue reading An Environmental Impact Statement on US Immigration Policy

Population Dynamics, the Concept of a “System,” and the Law of Unintended Consequences

by Larry D. Barnett The presence of too many people on planet Earth is a problem that generally receives just lip service. The lack of interest in the problem should not, however, be surprising. Hominids have been on Earth for millions of years,[1] and modern Homo sapiens has been around for millennia - by one … Continue reading Population Dynamics, the Concept of a “System,” and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Earth Wars: Nature Strikes Back

The current pandemic has had many severe consequences, but it has also acted as a reminder of the need for international cooperation when facing global challenges. Continued environmental destruction will likely increase the risk for future pandemics. Population growth is one of the main driving factors of the continued encroachment into nature and needs to … Continue reading Earth Wars: Nature Strikes Back

IUCN recognizes the importance of attending to population to preserve biodiversity

After decades of silence, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has passed a motion reaffirming the importance of addressing population matters to achieving conservation success. This continues a welcome recent trend among conservation scientists to speak up about the potential benefits of reining in population growth. by Pernilla Hansson The International Union for … Continue reading IUCN recognizes the importance of attending to population to preserve biodiversity

What is the optimal human population? An eminent economist weighs in

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

Humanity needs to halt both population growth and climate change

Many of today's environmental problems are more due to population growth than climate change, and climate change is driven in part by continued global population growth. Development funding to make family planning and modern contraceptives universally available could make a big difference in solving these interlocking problems. By Malte Andersson, Frank Götmark, and Anders Wijkman … Continue reading Humanity needs to halt both population growth and climate change

New television show dedicated to population debuts

After months in the works, a new television program devoted to exploring all aspects of the population / environment connection is now streaming free on demand. Dallas-based EarthX TV hosts The Population Factor, whose first episode features an interview with environmental legend Paul Ehrlich. Two other episodes follow: one about the challenges of limiting climate … Continue reading New television show dedicated to population debuts

Human Rights and Population Policy

Like all government policies, population policies should respect human rights. But what does that mean in practice? Putting reproductive rights in the larger context of creating just and sustainable societies provides the best framework for answering that question correctly. by Philip Cafaro Issues concerning human rights loom large in population debates. On the one hand, … Continue reading Human Rights and Population Policy

‘A Life on Our Planet’: Attenborough’s recipe and human reluctance — Chronicle of a failure foretold

"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

Earth overshoot day and population

Too many people consuming too many resources and generating too much waste: that’s why humanity keeps pushing deeper into ecological overshoot. On Earth Overshoot Day, let's not forget the P factor.  by Lucia Tamburino & Philip Cafaro Every year on Earth Overshoot Day, a table like the one below makes the rounds, showing the number … Continue reading Earth overshoot day and population

Overshoot day: the other side of the coin

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

New EU Biodiversity Strategy Fails to Address a Key Component of the Biodiversity Crisis – Human Numbers

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

Drawdown: a review of the Review

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

Planet of the Humans: New Film Shakes Up a Complacent Environmental Movement

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

Can Human Use Be Combined with Biodiversity Protection in the Tropics?

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?

Is overpopulation a dirty word?

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?

The population question: Toward a plan for global 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

Imagine

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