Herman Daly has made more fundamental contributions to specifying a truly sustainable economics than any economist of the past half century. At 85, he is still contributing to the development of ecological economics and still tossing off more memorable phrases in a short essay than most of us could work into a book. An example … Continue reading Population and Cheap Labour
In the second essay we are featuring from the Great Transition Initiative’s forum The Population Debate Revisited, Céline Delacroix highlights the win-win relationship between elevating women’s health, rights and autonomy and minimising population growth. Why then is the topic so unwelcome in international policy discourse? By Céline Delacroix Reading Ian Lowe’s opening essay to this … Continue reading The Natural Synergy between Population Stabilization and Reproductive Rights
A new book by the productive demographer Vegard Skirbekk has the commendable title Decline and Prosper!. It is a valuable resource, presenting much research on fertility around the world. It also raises questions about how to deal with high fertility and population growth in many countries. By Frank Götmark The book, in paperback from Palgrave … Continue reading “Decline and Prosper!” A review of a comprehensive book about fertility by Vegard Skirbekk
In June, the Great Transition Initiative ran a month-long forum under the title The Population Debate Revisited. The collection of contributed essays is now accessible on the GTI’s site, and makes for interesting reading. We thought three of the essays held particular merit and will republish them here over the next few weeks. The first … Continue reading Population and the Great Transition
Tech entrepreneur and multibillionaire Elon Musk claims that underpopulation rather than overpopulation is the greatest threat that faces humanity, despite current destruction of nature and the millions of people living in extreme poverty. Dr. David Walker examines Musk's dangerous statements and sets the facts straight. By Dr. David Walker As a South African, I must … Continue reading Elon Musk is wrong about population growth
Thank you, László We begin this week’s blog by gratefully highlighting the memory of László Szombatfalvy, Stockholm, who recently died at the age of 94. In his book The Greatest Challenges of Our Times László describes overpopulation as the overarching threat to Earth and humanity, above other existential threats. He and his research foundation supported … Continue reading Growing populations increase the risk of pandemics
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
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
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’
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!
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sometime this decade, India is set to overtake China as the most populous nation on Earth. Below, a reader from India reflects on what these immense numbers mean for his country’s future. Despite being in the position of being able to have a family of his own, he chooses not to in protest. For him … Continue reading Past, present, and future population: a personal account of India
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
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, 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
Political leaders often bray about the need for continued population growth to benefit “the Economy.” In Australia, Covid-19 has provided a real-world test of the impacts of reduced migration and decreased population growth. So far, those impacts appear largely positive. by Kelvin Thomson Population activists concerned about the damage that rapid growth is doing to … Continue reading Pandemic reduces migration, sky does not fall in
Increasing economic inequality and accelerating ecological decline are the two great political challenges facing nations today. In recent decades, many complicated efforts to address these problems have been proposed or tried, but the problems have continued to worsen. Perhaps it is time to address them more directly. by Philip Cafaro I came of age politically … Continue reading Two radical ideas whose time has come
With the world’s population growing by more than 80 million annually, the environmental case for addressing population growth seems clear. But is Earth overpopulated already? And what might be a sustainable human population? Recent episodes of EarthX TV’s The Population Factor address these questions and explore solutions to humanity’s continued demographic expansion. by The Overpopulation … Continue reading Are we overpopulated already?
A recently published article asked European demographers about their attitudes towards climate change and population growth. It shows that while most demographers are in agreement on the need to act on climate change, the effect of population growth is largely not understood. By The Overpopulation Project An article published in March this year in the … Continue reading Demographers fail to acknowledge the effect of population growth on climate change
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
A new survey from the Global Challenges Foundation shows wide concern about population growth and overpopulation in many parts of the world. by Pernilla Hansson In an attempt to assess the general public’s understanding of global catastrophic risks, the Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) recently carried out a large survey among people in 10 countries: Australia, … Continue reading Survey shows the general public is ready for discussions about population
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
According to the IPCC, economic growth and increasing human populations are the two main drivers of global climate disruption. However, to date only efficiency improvements and technological changes have been seriously considered to meet the goals of the UNFCC’s Paris Agreement. In a new study, we examine how the parties to the agreement dealt with … Continue reading Do countries consider population growth in their national plans for a sustainable future? A new working paper from TOP
The population crisis lies at the core of the first full-length novel by British author N. R. Baker, an eco-thriller called 10:59. Through a well-developed storyline, it details the destruction caused by our ever-growing population, following a compelling main character as he joins an organisation intent on saving the planet. Ms. Baker manages to balance … Continue reading 10:59 – time to address population?
Doctors have played a vital role in lowering mortality and increasing human life span and well-being. While representing a humanitarian success, this achievement has also contributed to a rapid increase in human numbers. In 1972, 52 physicians took responsibility for their role in this success and signed a call for action against overpopulation, through education, … Continue reading Pay Attention, Healthcare Workers!
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
by N.R. Baker According to the well-known metaphor, if you were to put a live frog into boiling water, it would – very wisely – leap straight out again. However, if you put the frog into tepid water that was then brought slowly to the boil, the hapless creature would be cooked before it even … Continue reading Boiling Frogs