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

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

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

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

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

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

Should the right to procreate eclipse future generations’ interests entirely? Book review of “Under the Sky We Make” by Kimberly Nicholas

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

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 demographic fantasies of the IPCC

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

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

Past, present, and future population: a personal account of India

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

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

Pandemic reduces migration, sky does not fall in

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

Two radical ideas whose time has come

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

Are we overpopulated already?

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?

Demographers fail to acknowledge the effect of population growth on climate change

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

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

Survey shows the general public is ready for discussions about population

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

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

Do countries consider population growth in their national plans for a sustainable future? A new working paper from TOP

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

10:59 – time to address population?

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?

Pay Attention, Healthcare Workers!

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!

Australia’s Population Ponzi Scheme

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

Population growth and climate change: environmental threat multipliers – a new publication from TOP

The Overpopulation Project is pleased to announce its most recent publication, “Population growth and climate change: Addressing the overlooked threat multiplier” published in Science of the Total Environment. Through a review of national and global studies, the paper describes the emission reduction and vulnerability reduction benefits of slowing population growth, and outlines policies that can … Continue reading Population growth and climate change: environmental threat multipliers – a new publication from TOP

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals depends on reducing birth rates faster

With ten years left to go, the international community must break its silence and tackle population growth directly if the UN’s SDGs are ever to be realised. Creating a better world, with security and opportunity for all, cannot occur in a context of continued rapid population growth. by Robin Maynard To celebrate World Population Day the environmental … Continue reading Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals depends on reducing birth rates faster

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

Black Lives Matter

So perhaps it’s time to take a more comprehensive look at how government policies impact black lives. In this piece, a long-time MP explores connections between Australia’s rapid population growth and its poor treatment of minority citizens. by Kelvin Thomson Black lives matter. It’s true, and in Australia it’s not as if we haven’t had … Continue reading Black Lives Matter

Will global population peak below 10 billion?

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?

New book argues for a sustainable world with 3 billion people

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

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

The disconcerting association between overpopulation and the COVID-19 crisis

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

From Population to Production: Scientists’ Changing Views on How to Feed the World

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

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?

Greenwashing growth: Boulder’s climate problem

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