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
Here at TOP, we are often asked how we define overpopulation and whether it’s a helpful concept. Good questions! Below I propose a definition of overpopulation, after first considering the suggestion that it’s not necessary or helpful to deploy the term, even —or especially! — if we want to convince our societies to accept good … Continue reading Two ways to argue for population’s importance
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A group of distinguished scientists have called for rapid action to reverse unsustainable population growth as threats to global ecological boundaries become more apparent. The evidence was set out at an online conference organised by Scientists Warning Europe to mark this year’s World Population Day. by Brian McGavin With the human ecological footprint already 170 … Continue reading Top scientists call for new UN sustainable development goal on population
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
A new initiative aims to draw attention to stories about population and consumption from women around the world to mark World Population Day. The focus lies on personal experiences and encourages a greater discussion about the links between population, consumption, and protecting nature. By Pernilla Hansson World Population Day is held every year on the … Continue reading Honouring World Population Day with Women’s Personal Stories
In its recent report State of World Population 2021 the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) highlights bodily autonomy as a universal right. Of course, nobody in a civilised society would object against this position. However, by limiting the notion to the domain of gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, … Continue reading From bodily autonomy back to family planning
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
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
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
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
A robust account of human responsibility, applied to humanity’s economic and demographic decisions, is the missing link in environmentalists’ endeavors to save our planet. Contemporary humanity has been misled by promises of rights without responsibilities, win/win solutions, and individual success without discipline or concern for the common good. "Back to basics" should be our battle … Continue reading Rights and responsibilities in population policy
Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Serving our corporate masters. And pasting smiles on our faces, too … Or better yet, imagine a world where citizens control their own destinies, within a peaceful and environmentally sustainable international order. That’s the real way forward. by the Honorable Kelvin Thomson I am a big … Continue reading Defending the nation-state
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
Two years ago, over 15 thousand scientists signed the “World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” about our interlocking global ecological crises. This year, 11 thousand scientists endorsed the new “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency”, published November 5th in Bioscience magazine. Will world leaders and citizens take notice, come together, and act … Continue reading World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency – take it seriously!
Researchers at TOP have published new population projections for all twenty-eight member countries of the European Union and for the EU as a whole. These projections differ from the 2019 United Nations’ Population Division projections and other recent projections in two main ways. First, they project a wider range of fertility and migration scenarios farther … Continue reading New EU population projections published
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
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
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