By The Overpopulation Project
Here at The Overpopulation Project, we try to keep a positive outlook. Although many environmental trends are grim, there exist clear paths forward toward a more sustainable world: one where people steward resources for the future and share habitat and resources generously with other species.
Recently, a correspondent wrote challenging us to identify solutions to the demographic and environmental problems we write about. We appreciate the reminder to remain forward looking and in response share the ideas below. Obviously, no one person or organization can cover all these efforts. But each of us can do something and together we can create a sustainable world.
These are personal and policy suggestions that we and others study. Some points are obvious, others fairly well established, but all need more research. If you are a scientist or scholar, one of the most important actions to take is to address population matters in your research, or join other researchers who are doing so.
What suggestions would you add or take off this list? Which ideas need further research? We would love to hear from you!
Actions on the individual level
- Have fewer children! One is good, two is enough – read more here>>
- Consider adoption!
- Read, educate yourself about population issues – read more here>>
- Reduce your personal consumption: go vegan, limit flying, share your household with others, and more>>
- Educate your teenage child(ren) about sex and contraception early, without taboos
- Spread your knowledge and concern among your friends and family, raise awareness about overpopulation on social media – read more here>>
- Donate to family planning programs in your own or other countries – for example to International Planned Parenthood, FP2020 or another equally deserving organization
- Vote for politicians who acknowledge the detrimental impacts of population growth and propose political solutions
Actions on the community level
- Join local environmental groups, encouraging them to “connect the dots” between population and the environment and address population issues
- Write opinion pieces for local newspapers, contact local media sources requesting more reporting on population issues – create demand!
- Municipalities should set growth management boundaries, discouraging sprawl development on their fringes
- Towns and cities should purchase surrounding lands, or the development rights to such lands, in order to set them aside as nature preserves and open space
- City councils should pass resolutions accepting limits to growth, and directing their national governments to develop policies to stabilize or reduce national populations
Actions on the national level
In high fertility developing countries, governments should …
- Generously fund family planning programs
- Make modern contraception legal, free and available everywhere, even in remote areas
- Improve health care to reduce infant and child mortality
- Restrict child marriage and raise the legal age of marriage (minimum 18 years)
- Introduce obligatory education as long as possible (minimum until the age of 16), and generously fund the necessary infrastructure
In low fertility developed countries, governments should …
- Embrace rather than fight aging and shrinking societies – read more here>>
- Reorganize pensions and other socio-economic systems to accommodate aging societies
- Eliminate baby bonuses, government funding for fertility treatments, and other incentives to raise fertility rates
- Reduce immigration numbers (at least to a level that will stabilize national populations, preferably to one that will lower them) – read our blog here>>
- Reduce resource consumption and pollution through an effective mix of taxes, incentives and regulations
In every country, governments should …
- Empower women, assuring equal rights, treatment and opportunities for both genders
- Provide information and access to reproductive health care, including all types of low cost, safe, effective contraception – read more here>>
- Make sterilization free, for men and women, or at least covered under all healthcare plans
- Legalize abortion without restrictions or social stigma – read our blog here>>
- Integrate family planning and safe motherhood programs into primary health care systems
- Make population and environmental issues and sex education part of the basic educational curriculum
- Disincentivize third and further children non-coercively, by limiting government support to the first two children
- Create a national population policy built around an optimal population size, and work to achieve it
- Set aside half the national landscape free from intensive development and dedicated to biodiversity protection – read more here>>
Actions on the global level
- Make “ending population growth” one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – read our blog here>>
- Greatly increase the amount of foreign aid going to family planning – learn more here>>
- Change the current foreign aid distribution, giving more support for health and education, while ending international military aid – read more here>>
- Global religious leaders should approve modern contraception methods and forcefully reject a fatalistic view of procreation – read more here>>
- Financially support media programs designed to change social norms to bolster family planning, best example is Population Media Center
- Hold a new global population conference, the first in twenty-five years, to reaffirm the ecological need to limit human numbers and the basic human right to family planning
- Connect family planning to international environmental and development funding; e.g., include family planning in the Green Climate Fund
- Create a new global treaty to end population growth, with all countries choosing population targets every half decade with a plan on how to achieve them (similar to the NDC format) – read our blog here>>
- Create an online platform similar to the ClimateWatch platform, where visitors can see countries’ goals, plans and achievements to date
23 thoughts on “Solutions to overpopulation and what you can do”
While not everyone will agree with every recommendation, the idea of such a comprehensive list seems sound to me and worth maintaining, modifying, and publicizing.
The idea you suggested is seems it brings better outcome in our country.. But the main important thing here is we should understand the drastic problem of raising population.. And government should implement some law for adopting one child that’s enough. It should be follow strictly to each and every people in our country. We cannot imagine better life by harming nature and as population increase it depletes the nature🌿🍃 we should try to make influence to as much people as we can.. And make them aware of our environment
I like your suggestions EXCEPT “go vegan”. Widespread veganism would destroy topsoil, decimate biodiversity, malnourish most of humanity, and accelerate consolidation of the control of our food supply systems by the 0.01%. If you’re really interested in sustainable solutions for people and the planet, then take “go vegan” off your list. Let me know if you want references for facts about the dangers of veganism.
Thank you for your comment, references for facts about the dangers of veganism are very much welcome!
Sorry, I didn’t see your request for references until yesterday. Here is some information…
The UN report was published over 12 years ago and has been proven by numerous scientists and economists to be deeply flawed. In truth, greenhouse gas production by livestock is much lower and pales in comparison to the amounts generated from fossil fuels. Irrigated grain or bean production requires much larger amounts of water than livestock production. And although emissions from factory farms are indeed environmentally heinous, raising livestock in a sustainable manner on organic pastures builds soil fertility and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. In contrast, the industrial production of grains – the caloric basis of a vegetarian diet – erodes the topsoil which sustains humanity and removes most all animal life from huge tracts of land. Two excellent books detailing the facts are Defending Beef by Nicolette Hahn Niman and The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. A recent analysis by USDA scientists also concludes that beef production is not a significant contributor to global warming (https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2019/study-clarifies-us-beefs-resource-use-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions/).
I agree with you, but please share all of your information about why veganism do not change anything. Have too many people around me who thinks this is the solution. Naive I say.
please send links right here!
Hi, your idea about harm of veganism is interesting for me, can you send a references about its danger?
please stop using the term “family planning” so much. High percentages of people are unmarried, and more people are living quite nicely as singles. They want to control their production, not plan their family. You alienate many people by forcing everyone into a “family” mode. Talk about being nonreproductive, not reducing the number of children. It is better if more become childfree.
The future looks promising. I think you have a point about having fewer children in the future. It’s actually happening already. In China they have a one child policy to reduce overpopulation, which is great. I think most of the things you’ve just wrote about are going to happen one day in the future. However, i don’t agree that the majority of people will go vegan.
China ended its 1 child policy in 2015
The population of a country , i.e., Human Resources is the most important and only active component of production . Besides , it is the ultimate beneficiary of all economic developments, progress and prosperity When the population is excessive , the per capita income is low and so the standard of living is also very poor. The poor living standard makes a person less efficient . The lower efficiency of labour hinders the very progress of the nation.
I agree with this statement – Eliminate baby bonuses, government funding for fertility treatments, and other incentives to raise fertility rates.
Possibly have tax incentives/bonuses starting for people of the age of 25 that haven’t had any kids. Every year they don’t have kids this bonus increases a small amount.
Why is the whole thing copied from https://mahb.stanford.edu/library-item/solutions-overpopulation-can/ this website
MAHB republished our “Solutions to Overpopualtion” page, and that is OK since we are members of MAHB. They note on the page you linked, that the author is The Overpopulation Project.
The Overpopulation Project
For a foundation against the terrestrial overpopulation
there was alot of awareness in the sixties. groups like zpg and books like the population bomb. why did it go away?
Why not just be upfront that this list of suggestions is a political ideology and has little to do with the specific issue of population growth? We will get to the 10s of billions and it will stabilise regardless of whether this list of solutions is acted upon or not. I mean what does limiting flights and going vegan have to do with the specific issue or population growth? It’s wishy washy.
As a research and outreach group, we work with the causes and effects of overpopulation. Some of the things listed on this page (as you mention, limiting flights and going vegan) may not specifically have to do with population growth per se, but the effects of that growth is inexorably linked to consumption. This can be illustrated using the IPAT equation, I=PxAxT, where I stands for impact (on the environment), P for population, A for affluence (representing consumption), and T for technology. An increase in either population or affluence greatly inflates a group’s impact on the environment. So a country of a certain population size with a high consumption rate will have a larger impact on the environment than that of a similarly sized country with a lower consumption rate. Overpopulation, indicating too many people consuming more than the earth can provide, is therefore linked both to the number of people there are on the planet or in a country, and how much they consume.
Additionally, the notion that the human population may stabilise somewhere around the 10s of billions should be cause for concern. Humanity is already causing mass extinctions of other species and has severely altered 75% of the Earth’s land surface. The number of people globally who are malnourished is increasing. As these already are large problems with our current population of 7.8 billion, increasing the population to well over 10 billion would likely be disastrous, both for nature and the wellbeing of humankind. Several attempts to quantify an optimal population size, which would allow for a good standard of living for everyone while also leaving plenty of room for other species to thrive, finds it to be around 3 billion (see for example https://overpopulation-project.com/new-book-argues-for-a-sustainable-world-with-3-billion-people/).
Most of the things listed on this page can act directly towards humanely lowering the national or global population size. For example, over 220 million women in developing countries want to avoid pregnancy but lack access to contraceptives. Ensuring access to contraceptives is one of the important things that organisations that work with family planning programmes strive towards, and therefore supporting them can be a direct help to such women. Humanely developed family planning programmes can be highly successful at lowering fertility rates, as can be seen by the examples highlighted in our family planning success series, so these actions can certainly have an effect (https://overpopulation-project.com/family-planning-success-stories/).
The earth does have enough resources to support an even larger population than 10 bil, its just we are not using it to the best of our abilities, instead we mass produce the most unhealthiest of foods, and are buying up all the small farms that don’t use gmo’s trying to turn the world into on big monarchy, with a few people at the top controlling everything.(like everything, the news, food water, our minds) True solutions should be looking into way to reduce carbon footprint and increase the use of free energy, encouraging people to be more aware of nature and aware of the ingredients going into the body, (i’m just using the food example continuously because its the easiest to explain, and often more palatable, pun intended) encouraging people to live outside in their surroundings, instead of mindlessly following the “leader” and listening to people like you, like complete imbeciles. Promoting abortion, or forced limitations on a woman’s reproductive choice, implicated by dictators who couldn’t even explain the true science behind it, (because there is none) and is we look at China the country who did implicate anti-natalist laws, limiting their citizens to 1 child, and the in the end the goal was not quite achieved, and in the process there was an alarmingly high number of “nitty gritty” activities taking place because of it, “murders” of newborns, due to gender, is just on of them, but you’ll never talk about that…
True solutions: , Yes we should be helping underdeveloped countries become more self sustainable, and “healthier”, but the perspective of what “healthy” is needs to change, supporting underdeveloped countries to become even better then the highly developed countries, by taking free energy and using it to power farms and greenhouse to produce a multitude of fruits and veggies, instead of mass producing and completely intoxicating our meat, (which is what’s actually harmful), going back more into the medieval days, by having heards and of cattle, and having these smaller farms everywhere in available reach to the general public, so they have the ability to support themselves, instead of relying on one mass farm (with no clue as to whats being used in the “food”), relying on one truck to bring it to that one main grocery store, never in your 75 years of living knowing that potatoes grow in the ground, i’m not saying get rid of the city and buildings, i believe if we incorporated sustaining ourselves more into life, people would feel more fulfilled, and the false pretence or narrative that somehow we are at an unhealthy number for are population would go away, if people just realized the earth is fine and the eco system was beautifully made to support itself, it was us who started exploiting its natural resources, creating imbalance, and we are told it is necessary but really its not, but they dont want you to believe that, because it defeats “their” narrative, but that’s a completely different conversation. Educating women in LIC’s that have a high amount of kids is not necessary for them to be “successful” is a good idea though.
We at The Overpopulation Project agree with you that one major part of the solution is to reduce our carbon footprint and increase the use of free energy. As I’m sure you have seen, it is one of the solutions listed on our site. However, there are not enough resources to support such a large population as we currently are, not in the long run. A study by Tamburino and Bravo showed that even if everyone on Earth only consumed the resources necessary to live a decent life and no more, we would still be exceeding Earth’s biocapacity (https://overpopulation-project.com/reconciling-human-demands-with-planetary-boundaries/). Additionally, it has been estimated that without using synthetic fertilizers, only 4 billion people can be supported by our agriculture (https://ourworldindata.org/how-many-people-does-synthetic-fertilizer-feed), and that the world will need 50% more food production by 2050 in large part due to population growth (https://research.wri.org/wrr-food). The World Resource Institute report also acknowledges the extensive challenges of providing enough food and the major changes that are needed. This is all happening at a time when we are facing a sixth global extinction of species, where half of all habitable land is used for agriculture (https://ourworldindata.org/global-land-for-agriculture) and we have severely altered 75% of the planet’s land surface according to the 2019 IPBES report.
What we promote is the access to abortion to those who want it, in tandem with access to contraceptives and education. Forced limitation on women’s reproductive choices is the opposite of what we stand for. You bring up China’s one child policy, which was a gross disregard to human rights and was condemned by international family planning experts world wide, as well it should. Such horrific methods must always be condemned and should never be used. Voluntary methods on the other hand, through educating and removing stigmas about the use of contraceptives while making them freely available, together with empowering women, are effective while strengthening human rights. See our examples on successful family planning programs here: https://overpopulation-project.com/family-planning-success-stories/.
It is a stated human right to make an informed decision about how many children to have and the spacing of those children, yet this right is denied many. Almost half of women in low to middle income countries have no decision-making power over their contraceptive use and sex-life according to a UN report, and over 220 million women in developing nations desire to delay or prevent pregnancies but lack access to contraceptives. Through education and access to family planning methods many women choose to have fewer children; this is what we promote.
I saw a film in 1970 ish called Zero Population Growth loosely based on the non fiction book by Paul Ehrlich called The Population bomb. It had a real impact on me but I never ever see in shown on any channels, it would perhaps seem outdated now but nevertheless it still addressed the issues. It scared me enough, I only had one child..
People probably won’t share their household because they might think they are intruders.