The cause of global environmental decline is clear: an immense and rapidly growing human economy. In response, environmentalists should advocate policies leading to fewer people and lower per capita consumption, not one instead of the other. Addressing both provides our best hope of creating sustainable societies and preserving Earth’s remaining biodiversity. by Philip Cafaro There … Continue reading Procreation and Consumption in the Real World
William Rees explores the nature of humanity’s relationship with energy and the ecosphere, and reaches the unsettling conclusion that a population ‘correction’ is in the offing. By William Rees What would you think if someone called you out as a ‘dissipative structure’? Or better, claimed that you were a ‘thermodynamically far-from-equilibrium dissipative structure’? Chances are, … Continue reading What you should know – but didn’t know to ask – about overshoot and the ‘population question’
Then again, neither is anything else. The long lag time between fertility reduction and population stabilization is a key reason we need to address excessive human numbers sooner rather than later. by Phil Cafaro There's an argument one often hears that goes like this: "sure, population is important. But we need to reduce our environmental … Continue reading Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems
Australia is growing rapidly, in large part due to immigration. This causes strain on both infrastructure and the environment. By Sustainable Population Australia Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) considers Australia’s population growth rate in 2022 too high and called on the federal government to put a brake on immigration. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released … Continue reading Australia’s population growth rate of nearly half a million ‘too high’
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework1 adopted in December 2022 by representatives of most of the world’s national governments is inadequate to halt and reverse the disturbing loss of biodiversity globally. Concerted efforts to increase the new Framework’s ambition were dismissed and ultimately ignored. Human overshoot – the collective impacts of more than eight billion people … Continue reading Adversity for Biodiversity: A Reflection on My Experience at COP15
The UN’s latest State of the World Population 2023 report deepens its denouncement of population concerns. While it commendably emphasizes women’s reproductive rights, it neglects the role an excessive and growing population plays in driving global ecological degradation and overlooks the many ways overpopulation can undermine poor people’s rights to safety and security. by Jan … Continue reading More population neglect from the United Nations
Newspapers, radio, and TV in many countries usually avoid the problems of population growth and overpopulation. But by focused work it is possible to get the attention of mainstream media. This recently happened in Sweden, to judge from a TV program broadcast 13 April. By Frank Götmark and Malte Andersson How can you highlight the … Continue reading Making media seriously discuss population growth and its consequences – a case in Sweden
How often have you heard some version of this claim: “population growth is not a problem for climate change, because populations are growing in poor countries whose contributions to global emissions are negligible”? It gets repeated like a mantra, soothing words that banish thought. But what justifies a claim is not the number of times … Continue reading Dangerous distraction or elephant in the room? The role of population growth during three decades of increasing carbon emissions
The world population has hit 8 billion, a milestone which has been widely discussed in the media. In this article originally published by The Hill, William Ryerson of the Population Media Center and Kathleen Mogelgaard of the Population Institute reflect on the economic and environmental effects of this milestone. By William Ryerson and Kathleen Mogelgaard … Continue reading Global population has hit 8 billion
Despite obvious differences, Qatar and China have something in common: disinformation, myths and lack of information surround these two countries. Looking at data instead of anecdotes discloses surprising facts and enables a better understanding of these countries’ demographic policies. It also sheds light on how population policies can drive unbalanced sex-ratios. by Lucia Tamburino and … Continue reading Something you don’t know about Qatar and something you know about China (but it’s wrong)
Are many tiny ecological footprints more virtuous than fewer, larger ones? Will they be better for the Earth, or easier to accomplish? These hard questions need to be asked as humanity hurtles past 8 billion people and deeper into ecological overshoot. By Gaia Baracetti You've all heard the argument: high birth rates in poor countries … Continue reading The per capita fallacy
For those times when we feel worn down by the thanklessness of campaigning for population sustainability, it can be uplifting to hear the voices of veteran campaigners whose courage has never wavered. Michael Bayliss introduces us to a conversation to inspire. by Michael Bayliss In the most recent episode of Post-Growth Australia Podcast (PGAP) I … Continue reading 3 Women, 2 Countries, 1 Voice for World Population Day 2022
To influence societal attitudes and population policy it is important for organizations that understand the population factor to reach out to politicians who can enact necessary changes. Below follows one such example, where the Swedish group Nätverket ‘Population Matters Sweden’ wrote letters to all members of the Swedish parliament, highlighting the need to address population … Continue reading Influencing politicians to act on population trends: an example from Sweden
In the old fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, people denied the emperor’s nakedness because they wanted to be seen as smart. Today people deny overpopulation because they want to be seen as moral. It is a form of virtue signaling: are you for justice and equity and families and being nice to refugees, or … Continue reading History was rewritten to delegitimize population concerns: we need to reassert the truth
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 IPCC climate change mitigation report confirms that population increase and economic growth are the main drivers of today’s historically high greenhouse gas emissions. But that scientific information has been censored and removed from the Summary for Policymakers distributed to the world’s press and the public. Does a problem disappear if we don’t mention … Continue reading Population in the IPCC’s new mitigation report
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
Faced with the reality of global climate change and its devastating impacts, climate ethicists have begun to address the role of population and the need for limits to growth. A new review article reports on this welcome development. by Philip Cafaro During the past 30 years of extensive political debate about global climate change, participants … Continue reading Ethicists recognize that limiting population growth is key to addressing climate change
This coming weekend, representatives from 196 nations will gather in Glasgow for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. Failure is assured, since addressing the fundamental causes of climate change isn’t on the agenda and all proposed national commitments are voluntary, with no penalties for not living up … Continue reading Glasgow follies
Environmental organizations around the world are often stuck treating symptoms, rather than addressing the root causes of environmental problems. Author and naturalist Karen Shragg joins Phil Cafaro for a new episode of The Population Factor to discuss how “moving upstream” could reinvigorate a tired environmental movement. by The Overpopulation Project As representatives from the nations … Continue reading Move Upstream
In a new report, a joint workshop convened by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warned that the climate and biodiversity crises need to be tackled in tandem. Among their hundreds of suggestions for doing so, however, proposals to end population growth were nowhere to be … Continue reading IPCC and IPBES Ignore Overpopulation Again
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
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
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
That was the front-page headline in the New York Times last Thursday, August 8th, announcing a new report from the IPCC, “Climate Change and Land.” I’m kidding, of course. The actual headline read “Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns,” and the article did not mention population once. By Philip Cafaro The … Continue reading “Overpopulation threatens the world’s food supply, United Nations warns”
By The Hon. Kelvin Thomson It has been great to re-live the Apollo 11 Moon Landing’s 50th Anniversary. What a monumental achievement and tribute to human intellectual candlepower, endeavour and above all courage. I was a Year 9 student at the time; like other classes we downed tools to watch it unfold. Our teachers were … Continue reading One giant leap for mankind – but since?
Climate change and it’s relationships to technology, energy and food are often discussed in the media, whereas freshwater, also a critical resource for humanity, tends to be overlooked. It is even more overlooked in terms of other species - lakes and other surface waters provide homes for hundreds of thousands of species. A recent article … Continue reading Freshwater, trade and population: global patterns and possible solutions
Between toxic calls for immigration controls based on racial criteria and hyperbolic denunciations of any mention of population issues as “ecofascist,” the room for intelligent and honest discussion of immigration policy is being gobbled up from both the Left and the Right. Yet the issue is too important to leave to the yahoos or the … Continue reading How should environmentalists think about immigration?
Articles about population in the media typically are riddled with misconceptions and tiptoe around taboos. Moving past these can free us to have open and honest discussions about population matters. The following list does not pretend to be exhaustive, but to help debunk the most common myths and become more aware of the complexity of … Continue reading Ten things that you may not know about population
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are at an all time high. That growth tracks explosive world population growth, which is the greatest driver of climate change and a threat multiplier. The Green New Deal has justifiably generated excitement and enthusiasm among people who believe its goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero over 10 years is … Continue reading Fix the climate with smaller families
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?
Human overpopulation is real; it’s serious and needs to be humanely handled by conscientious and charitable individuals. Thanos from the Avengers movies is neither one of those things. He recognized the problem but acted viciously on his “solution,” phasing out of existence 50% of all intelligent life in the Universe. What Thanos ended up doing … Continue reading When the heroes win, everybody loses
By Phil Cafaro In the run up to elections to the European Parliament in May, 2019, the coalition of European Green parties has put forth a statement of principles and political goals: “Priorities for 2019: What European Greens Fight For.” Organized around twelve key goals, all in line with “core Green values that we pursue … Continue reading The implicit population hypothesis hidden within EU Green party platforms
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 Stephen Williams Without a fundamental change to economic thinking, Australia will continue down the dystopian road, argues Stephen Williams. [The Prime Minister of Australia], Scott Morrison, met with state and territory leaders in Adelaide recently for the COAG chinwag. Topping the list of agenda items was population. I will try and summarise the population problem as succinctly … Continue reading New Australian population plan will be meaningless
Population growth is a potential political and social issue. And just like any issue, it requires recognition from both the public and politicians to be added to the agenda. Although population growth may not be a topic that compels you to call your representative, surveys from the Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) show that perhaps it … Continue reading Public believes population growth negative, risky, and requiring international attention, while politicians look the other way
Karin Kuhlemann and host Thomas Hornigold tackle the complex discussion of overpopulation in a recent episode of Physical Attraction. In a refreshingly comprehensive dialogue, Thomas Hornigold and Karin Kuhlemann approach the conversation from a practical perspective, focusing on the best way to frame the overpopulation discussion, with an emphasis on potential solutions. Using helpful analogies, … Continue reading “Karin Kuhlemann on Overpopulation”: Associated Researcher of TOP Team Featured Guest on Podcast