William Rees is the originator of ecological footprint analysis, the influential approach to measuring sustainability. In a new article, he argues that humanity is deep into ecological overshoot and that we need to ratchet back our numbers and the size of our economies before nature does it for us. by Philip Cafaro William Rees has … Continue reading Population growth has contributed 80% of ecological overshoot
On 15 November 2022, Earth’s human population will pass 8 Billion, according to estimates by the United Nations. This sobering milestone should galvanise us to redouble our efforts to minimise further growth. By Valorie M. Allen I have found myself checking out the population counter on my website more and more often as it approaches … Continue reading Hello World of 8 Billion!
A recent letter in Biological Conservation criticized TOP researchers for writing about how more people means less space for wildlife. We responded that without limiting our numbers, people will not be able to protect the natural world. Who’s right? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the on-line comments below. by The Overpopulation Project This … Continue reading Conserving biodiversity means limiting human numbers
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
Many of today's environmental problems are more due to population growth than climate change, and climate change is driven in part by continued global population growth. Development funding to make family planning and modern contraceptives universally available could make a big difference in solving these interlocking problems. By Malte Andersson, Frank Götmark, and Anders Wijkman … Continue reading Humanity needs to halt both population growth and climate change
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
The Overpopulation Project (TOP) is a small organization, consisting of just a few individuals, but with strong motivations and much experience (see ‘About us’). We are independent researchers, not bound to any political or ideological agenda. Conducting research and outreach on overpopulation and its tragic consequences, and explaining solutions to this problem, are our main … Continue reading Another productive year at TOP
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
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
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
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?
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
Societies can avoid a world population of 10.8 billion and related disasters – with education, contraception and emphasis on sustainability. by Joe Bish Human civilization faces a severe long-range mismatch between sustainable food yields and global population size. Some experts suggest a population sized at approximately two people per arable hectare would be ecologically sustainable. … Continue reading Addressing Population Challenge Is Not Impossible
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
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
by Phil Cafaro and Frank Götmark Greetings! It’s been a busy year here at The Overpopulation Project. As many of you know, we have an active website, with a new blog almost every week and more invited authors this year. The total number of visitors to our website was 84,848 in 2019, and average monthly … Continue reading TOP wraps up 2019 and prepares for the new decade
By Jenna Dodson The United States’ birth rate has fallen to a 30-year low, and the media is giving this new figure much attention. Unfortunately, most of that attention is misplaced. Since last week, countless news organizations released articles reviewing the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that documents the 3,853,472 … Continue reading US birth rate lowest in 30 years – the overlooked benefits
By Frank Götmark In "Responsible Use of Language in Scientific Writing and Science Communication"1 Kueffer and Larson discussed the role of language and concepts in scientific writing and communication. Researchers increasingly depend on marketing strategies to publish their findings and to obtain funding, according to the authors. They were especially interested in strong metaphors that may … Continue reading Are scientists using proper words to describe the negative influence of humans on the Earth’s ecosystems?
by Patrícia Dérer It is possible to estimate an optimal human population size based on various criteria and assumptions. Here, we do not deal with the lower bound of the human population (the minimum viable population) as we are certainly well above that limit. Concerning the upper bound, we have to consider the carrying capacity … Continue reading What is the optimal, sustainable population size of Humans?
By Jenna Dodson Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs1. Using this definition, the United Nations developed a sustainable development framework centered around three pillars: economic, environmental, and social. Population is included in the social pillar … Continue reading Including population growth in sustainability discussions, case study: Egypt