World Population Awareness

Factoids and Frequently Asked Questions

May 25, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Population Infographic

October 17 , 2013

Scroll to see the entire infographic.

Norwich University Online Masters in Diplomacy


Click on the link in the headline if you don't see the infographic here.


November 23 , 2014

1. What do you think is the main factor(s) that contribute to overpopulation?

Anything that gets in the way of a woman's ability to control her own reproduction. This would include: patriarchal traditions, lack of contraceptive choices, lack of education, child or forced marriages, banned or unsafe abortions, disenfranchisement, misinformation about birth control, doctor's ill-informed or prejudiced attitude, and use of a less effective method of birth control, such as the pill, condoms, or withdrawal - the three most common methods in the U.S.

2. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

Depletion of resources: for example: for oil, the sweet crude is mostly gone, leaving the hard-to-get oil at great energy cost to civilization because energy powers civilization and renewables have a long way to go to fill in for fossil fuels. This country is going into debt to keep production up. Other resources being depleted: soil, water, arable land, fertilizer (phosphate), metals.

Pollution: carbon, plastics, nitrogen, GTO crops.

3. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

Overpopulation in one part of the world can affect another part of the world. For example: global climate change is caused by population X a large per capita consumption in developed countries, but lesser developed countries, depending on their physical location and economic situation, may be more affected by climate change. Rapid population growth in SubSaharan Africa will certainly have a large impact on the area, but who can tell how different it would be if Africans had the same economic wealth that Americans have? Technology, wealth, consumption, and population all play a part.

4. How does overpopulation differ from the US and other countries?

Because developed countries have greater wealth, they consume much more per capita, so population size makes a bigger difference, particularly in the U.S, which had a large resource base and early technology to start with, as in the discovery of oil, for example.

5. Why don't we hear much about the issues on the news and media?

Population has had some very unpopular aspects, such as China's forced abortions and sterilizations. Some actions in the name of population amounted to genocide. There are still such abuses going on today. It is the job of the population activists of today to stick to the reproductive justice plan - every woman should have control over her own reproductive capacity. This plan has been proven to work. There is no need for 'population control', or preaching moral imperatives to have only one (or two) children.

6. Why should people be concerned about overpopulation now, as opposed to waiting until it becomes more of an apparent problem?

If we wait, the problem will be worse, and then what can we do about the problem? Killing people, neglecting their health, or allowing them to starve is unacceptable. Giving women control over their own production gives both short and long-term health and economic benefits to women, couples, children already born, communities, and even nations. doclink

Investment in Voluntary Family Planning Programmes: Benefits and Cost-saving Effects (Fact Sheet)

June 18 , 2013

This is a well-done fact sheet with many persuasive population facts that can be used for tabling or persuading policy makers.

Here are some of the facts from the factsheet:

• There are an estimated 222 million women in developing countries with an unmet need for modern contraception.

• Worldwide only 57.4% of women aged 15-49 who are married or in a union are using modern contraception, and this figure falls to only 31.0% in the least developed countries

• Growth is expected to be most rapid in the 49 least developed countries, which are projected to double in size from around 900 million inhabitants in 2013 to 1.8 billion in 2050.

• The population of Africa is expected to more than double by mid-century, increasing from today's 1.1 billion and potentially reaching 4.2 billion by 2100.

• Niger has one of the highest population growth rate in the world (currently 4.0% a year) and the highest fertility rate in the world (with an average of 7.8 babies born to every woman between 2010 and 2015) also has one of the lowest rates of modern contraceptive use (only 8.7% among women of reproductive age who are married or in a union).

• 80 million unintended pregnancies occur every year in developing countries, with women with an unmet need for modern contraception accounting for 79% of these unintended pregnancies.

• Worldwide an estimated 41% of pregnancies are unintended5 and over one in five of all births result from unintended pregnancies.

Fulfilling the unmet need for modern contraception in developing countries would each year:

• Save the lives of 79,000 women from pregnancy-related deaths (in addition to the 118,000 maternal deaths averted by current modern contraceptive use)

• Save the lives of 1.1 million infants that would die before the age of 1 (in addition to the 1.8 million infant deaths averted by current use)

• Avert 54 million unintended pregnancies (which would represent a decline by two-thirds and is in addition to the 218 million averted currently)

• Avert 26 million abortions, including 16 million fewer unsafe procedures (in addition to the 138 million abortions currently averted, 40 million of them unsafe)

• Avert 7 million miscarriages (in addition to the 25 million averted currently) • Avert 21 million unplanned births (in addition to the 55 million averted currently). doclink

Investment in Voluntary Family Planning Programmes: Benefits and Cost-saving Effects (Fact Sheet)

June 18 , 2013

This is a well-done fact sheet with many persuasive population facts that can be used for tabling or persuading policy makers.

Here are some of the facts from the factsheet:

• There are an estimated 222 million women in developing countries with an unmet need for modern contraception.

• Worldwide only 57.4% of women aged 15-49 who are married or in a union are using modern contraception, and this figure falls to only 31.0% in the least developed countries

• Growth is expected to be most rapid in the 49 least developed countries, which are projected to double in size from around 900 million inhabitants in 2013 to 1.8 billion in 2050.

• The population of Africa is expected to more than double by mid-century, increasing from today's 1.1 billion and potentially reaching 4.2 billion by 2100.

• Niger has one of the highest population growth rate in the world (currently 4.0% a year) and the highest fertility rate in the world (with an average of 7.8 babies born to every woman between 2010 and 2015) also has one of the lowest rates of modern contraceptive use (only 8.7% among women of reproductive age who are married or in a union).

• 80 million unintended pregnancies occur every year in developing countries, with women with an unmet need for modern contraception accounting for 79% of these unintended pregnancies.

• Worldwide an estimated 41% of pregnancies are unintended5 and over one in five of all births result from unintended pregnancies.

Fulfilling the unmet need for modern contraception in developing countries would each year:

• Save the lives of 79,000 women from pregnancy-related deaths (in addition to the 118,000 maternal deaths averted by current modern contraceptive use)

• Save the lives of 1.1 million infants that would die before the age of 1 (in addition to the 1.8 million infant deaths averted by current use)

• Avert 54 million unintended pregnancies (which would represent a decline by two-thirds and is in addition to the 218 million averted currently)

• Avert 26 million abortions, including 16 million fewer unsafe procedures (in addition to the 138 million abortions currently averted, 40 million of them unsafe)

• Avert 7 million miscarriages (in addition to the 25 million averted currently) • Avert 21 million unplanned births (in addition to the 55 million averted currently). doclink


June 05, 2013

James F.: Well, since you are going to post some liberal Nazi propaganda …. Let's talk about liberal and communist lifestyles and how many people they MURDERED…. In the U.S. we have a toll of 53,000,000 babies aborted (Murdered) In China that toll is 400,000,000 (Murdered) that doesn't count the ones that are born and then killed because they are not a boy either… doclink

WOA!! responds: Talking about Nazis and baby killers, In 2009, there were 6.4 million pregnancies. These are pregnancies detected by a test or diagnosed by a doctor.

Before implantation, around half the results of conception (zygotes) do not develop properly, do not implant in the uterus and are passed out of the woman's body. So that means there were12.8 million conceptions 12 months prior.

12.8 million conceptions

4,131,019 live births (2009)

784,507 abortions (2009)

500,000 miscarriages (average per year)

26,000 stillbirths (2009)

6,400,000 zygotes never implanted

Looking at these numbers, just who is the real eugenicist?

Note that I did not include losses due to contraception. That is because it is designed to prevent conception. Also not counted is the morning-after pill, which works by delaying or preventing ovulation so that an egg is never fertilized in the first place, or by thickening cervical mucus so sperm have trouble moving.

Population Grows by 1.5 Million People a Week

May 13, 2013

This week, our global population will grow by more than 1.5 million people. That's like adding a city the size of Phoenix or Philadelphia. In just one week! What's worse, around the world right now: One in ten people lacks access to clean drinking water. One in eight doesn't have enough food to eat. One in five lives on less than $1 a day. ... doclink

Questions on Overpopulation

February 26, 2012, WOA website

Go to this link - - to download this article as a pdf for printing on 2 pages (or one 2-sided page) for student handouts.

1. What are the biggest issues that arise from overpopulation, and why are they so bad?

a. Food shortages and associated malnutrition, susceptibility to disease, stunted growth and stunted brain power, starvation b. Peak oil, which greatly impacts food supply. c. Per capita water shortage and poor water quality, which greatly impacts food supply and human health d Climate change which creates hotter, more hostile crop growing conditions and flooding, also hostile to crops. e. Shortage of nonrenewable resources, particularly fertilizer, necessary for crop production, but also other resources needed for manufacturing, without which our materialistic civilization will grind to a halt. f. Environmental damage caused by the quest for more fossil fuels and essential metals, destruction of animal habitat caused by urbanization.

2. In the future, do you foresee it getting worse or better, and to what degree?

Going by a. Food shortages alone, it will only get worse unless we quickly stabilize population and find some as-yet-discovered agricutural advancement. The Green Revolution has petered out.

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. Is there anything that you believe we can do to help lessen the effects of overpopulation on the environment and other animals?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care - programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world's fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, male involvement, and women's empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates. But these programs need more funding and we must push for that funding.

4. Why should people be concerned about overpopulation now, as opposed to waiting until it becomes more apparent?

Slowing population growth takes time unless we resort to drastic, ugly, highly unpopular solutions. We must increase funding for family planning now, because putting babies back in the womb, or even a worse alternative, is not an acceptable solution.

5. Why do you think so many people are ignorant on the topic of overpopulation and it's effects?

a. Resistance to contraception and the belief that sex is only for procreation by certain Christian religions. b. Belief that population stabilization requires 'population control' - the One Child policy in China,for example. Not understanding that there are gentle solutions that will help people live a better life, and that people actually want, and that have been proven to work. c. Inability to connect the dots when 6 billion goes to 7 billion in 12 years and then to 8 billion in 13 years. Belief that 'God will take care of it'. Cornucopian view of the world fostered by decades of technological advances and materialistic success has caused people to think that the world's natural resources are unlimited. Forgetting that fossil fuels have allowed the West to advance technologically and live very comfortably, and therefore not really thinking to look at the dim future of fossil fuels.

6. Do you believe overpopulation, or the way we use resources is more of a problem, and why?

There is no doubt that, if the 2 billion people living very comfortably on this earth made sacrifices, then the 2 billion living on the edge could live more comfortably - IF (a very big if) it was practical to transfer the assets of the rich to the poor, and if the rich would willingly give up their comfortable life. Unfortunately many people use the excuse that consumption is a bigger part of the problem (they believe it is) to avoid dealing with population altogether.

Most frequently we hear about overconsumption in the West measured in terms of carbon emissions. However, we must remember that the critical path for humanity is the supply of food. Arable land is fast disappearing due to urbanization, soil erosion/overuse, and water shortages in both rich and poor countries. Both rich and poor countries will suffer, the poor first, but then the poor in the richer countries. Already the middle class is fast disappearing in the U.S., due to loss of jobs to overseas employees. So the U.S. is not immune to the impacts of food shortages.

Unfortunately, population is growing so fast that, whatever advances we make by providing more food to more people eventually ends up at a point where there is not enough food and starvation is nature's way to equalize supply and demand.

7. When do you think the world's population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world's population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus is reputed to believe it would happen in the 1700s (that wasn't actually what he said); Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world's growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don't die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow - on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

8. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 - 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai - every space was taken.

9. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don't have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

10. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however - not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

11. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow.

12. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

13. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources.

14. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

15. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

16. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as 'undernourished' by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

17. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

18. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

19. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

20. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth's finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth's resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

21. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

22. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care - programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world's fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women's empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

23. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

24. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can't find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA's Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students). You can hook up with the Sierra Club and join population activities there:

You can also help WOA - we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

25. Why don't we hear much about this issue on the news and such? It seems like something that should be dealt with immediately, yet i don't see anyone in power taking action.

I come across over 20 articles a day on population, some of them in important places like the New York Times, the Economist, National Geographic, BBC, Scientific American, and so on. Today food and gas prices are rising, partly due to peak oil, partly due to climate change, partly due to seasonal fluctuation, but mostly due to a shortage of resources per person.

On the other hand, there are conservatives that do not believe in limited resources, overpopulation, "telling people what they should do in their private lives," contraception, and abortion. Some of these people are in places of high influence, like the U.S. Congress, which has recently contemplated removing Title X funding from Planned Parenthood, claiming the money is going for abortions, which it isn't. The money goes for family planning services (not abortion) and reproductive health services. These same conservatives control various media such as Fox News.

The United States and other countries HAVE been taking action on this issue for many years. Programs are in place for voluntary family planning and reproductive health, among others that reduce fertility rates. These programs have been instrumental in bringing down world fertility rates, which are now around 2.5 children per woman. But every year there is a battle over how much funding should be put into these programs by the U.S. doclink

Karen Gaia says: any suggestions for these FAQs are welcome. Send to

Question on Population and Economics

November 26 , 2012, WOA!! website - Karen Gaia Pitts

Hello Ms. Gaia,

I am currently a junior at South Pasadena High School in South Pasadena, California. I have recently been assigned a research paper and I have decided to write it on the economic, medical, and environmental effects that occur from overpopulation. I perused through your World Overpopulation Awareness website and was very pleased with what I found. However, I was wondering if you could tell me a few more things about the effects of overpopulation on the economies of overpopulated countries. Or perhaps if you could think of any advantages of overpopulation, it would be of great help to me. Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to your reply!


Katie doclink

Hi Katie,

In a region or country where there is not enough farmland or grazing land to feed everyone, or there are frequent droughts, and people are too poor to buy food from other countries, that region can be said to be overpopulated. A good example is Egypt, where farmland only exists for about a half mile on either side of the Nile River, and the rest is desert. There are more people than the land can support. Egypt imports much of its grain, which isn't a problem if there is food aid or people can afford the imported grain, but it becomes a problem when there is a heat wave or drought in countries that usually send their grain to Egypt. Or there is a problem if the sending countries decide to use their grain for biofuel instead of for feeding people in other countries.

When people are poor, and don't have enough land to grow all their food, they have to spend all their money on food. They cannot afford to send their children to school, or to get medical care. Many people rely on the government to education them or provide medical care, but when the majority of the people in the country are poor, the tax base is too small to support programs for education, health care,
sanitation, and so on. Foreign aid may help, but foreign aid has never been enough to be a complete solution.

When children don't get an education, especially girls, they tend to marry early (their families are glad to have one less mouth to feed), and have more children. Lack of health care also means more babies but high infant and maternal mortality rate. If mothers don't get health care for prenatal, birth, or postnatal matters, then it is unlikely they will get the information about family planning and unlikely they
would get access to contraception. In addition, a high infant mortality rate leads a woman to believe that she needs to have more children as insurance. Also, lack of access to contraception means the
mother is more likely to die in childbirth. And when children are not spaced by at least two years, the health of the mother and the two babies also suffers.

Lack of food and health care also means the children are physically and mentally stunted, so they will be less productive, which is not conducive to a strong economy.

As for the positive side of overpopulation: if there is a large number of young people entering the labor market, this can boost the economy. But the jobs must be there for these young people, or there will be no benefits to have so many of them. And, if these young people are educated, the chances of boosting the economy are improved.

However, these benefits are only temporary. The benefits of a young, educated workforce will be greatly diminished when these young people reach retirement age: first they will have lived longer than they would have if they did not have a good job, thus adding to the population size and competing with younger generations for natural resources; second, while they live longer, they will require
considerably more medical care than people of a younger age, which will drag down the economy, and third, they are more likely to have fewer children, so that now there will be a senior boom instead of a
baby boom, and there will be more dependents than working age adults, which will also help bring down the economy.

The U.S. is experiencing such a senior boom today, which at least one economist has blamed for our current economic crisis.

One more economic phenomenon associated with population is the sending of jobs overseas. Developing countries, now that they have educated their young, often do not have enough jobs for which their young people have trained, so American corporations are finding they can hire these educated young people for far lower wages than what they would pay young college-educated Americans to do the same job, or - they can move the jobs to the country where these young people are living. This has caused a great deal of unemployment in the U.S.

I hope this helps.

Karen Gaia


World Population Projections - UN 2014

September 01 , 2014

Note that Africa's projections have increased due to the faulty assumption made in earlier projections that Africa's fertility rates would decline similarly to the rest of the world.

This chart is adapted from a chart shown in Scientific American at doclink

Will Overpopulation Lead to Public Health Catastrophe?

October 29 , 2014, Medical News Today   By: David Mcnamee

Recent research by University of Washington demographer Prof. Adrian Raftery has found that previous projections on population growth may have been conservative. He predicts somewhere 9.6 and 12.3 billion people by 2100. This is 5 billion people more than have been previously calculated.

A key finding of the study is that the fertility rate in Africa is declining much more slowly than has been previously estimated. In Nigeria - Africa's most populous country - each woman has an average of six children, and in the last 5 years, the child mortality rate has fallen from 136 per 1,000 live births to 117.

"There are already big public health needs and challenges in high-fertility countries, and rapid population growth will make it even harder to meet them." High population density leads to a much higher rate of contact between humans, which means that communicable diseases - ranging from the common cold to Dengue fever - can be much more easily transmitted.

And more people means greater efforts are needed to control waste management and provide clean water. If these needs cannot be adequately met, then diarrheal diseases become much more common, resulting in a big difference in mortality rates.

"There are already big public health needs and challenges in high-fertility countries, and rapid population growth will make it even harder to meet them." A Johns Hopkins report said that unclean water and poor sanitation kill over 12 million people every year, while air pollution kills 3 million, and furthermore, in 64 of 105 developing countries, population has grown faster than food supplies.

The Johns Hopkins team identified two main courses of action to divert these potential disasters.

Firstly - sustainable development. The report authors argued this should include:

*More efficient use of energy
*Managing cities better
*Phasing out subsidies that encourage waste
*Managing water resources and protecting freshwater sources
*Harvesting forest products rather than destroying forests
*Preserving arable land and increasing food production
*Managing coastal zones and ocean fisheries
*Protecting biodiversity hotspots<

The second vital area of action is the stabilization of population through good-quality family planning, which "would buy time to protect natural resources."

Experts consider boosting the education of girls in developing countries to be a prime solution. As well as acquiring more control over their reproductive life, an educated female workforce should have more opportunities of employment and of earning a living wage. Studies report that the children of educated women also have better chances of survival and will become educated themselves. This pattern continuing across generations is associated with a decline in fertility rates.

If the fertility rate were to decline faster, Prof. Raftery suggests that high-fertility countries can reap "a demographic dividend," which is "a period of about a generation during which the number of dependents (children and old people) is small. This frees up resources for public health, education, infrastructure and environmental protection, and can make it easier for the economy to grow. This can happen even while the population is still increasing." doclink

The Amazing, Surprising, Africa-Driven Demographic Future of the Earth, in 9 Charts

July 16 , 2015, Washington Post   By: Max Fisher

The United Nations Population Division has dramatically revised its projections for the next 90 years. The new statistics, based on in-depth survey data from sub-Saharan Africa, tell the story of a world poised to change drastically over the next several decades. Most rich countries will shrink and age, poorer countries will expand rapidly and Africa will see a population explosion nearly unprecedented in human history.

Here is the story of the next 90 years as predicted by UN demographic data and explained in nine charts. The charts are interactive. Click on the link in the headline to see the charts.

In 2100 today's dominant, developed economies will be increasingly focused on supporting the elderly and Africa, for better or worse, will be more important than ever.

In Africa there will four times the workforce, four times the resource burden, four times as many voters. The rapid growth itself will likely transform political and social dynamics within African countries and thus their relationship with the rest of the world.

Nigeria will have almost a billion people by 2100 and will be within range of surpassing China in population. Nigeria is only about the area of Texas and the country is already troubled by corruption, poverty and religious conflict. The government that can barely serve its population right now. How will it respond when the demand on resources, social services, schools and roads increases by a factor of eight. The country's vast oil reserves could certainly help - the rapidly growing workforce could theoretically deliver an African miracle akin to, say, China's.

Right now, many African countries aren't particularly adept at either governance or resource management. If they don't improve, exploding population growth could only worsen resource competition -- and we're talking here about basics like food, water and electricity -- which in turn makes political instability and conflict more likely. The fact that there will be a "youth bulge" of young people makes that instability and conflict more likely.

Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world, went from 34 million people in 2000 to 45 million today. By 2100 it is projected to reach 276 million. Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have similar projections.

If Tanzania remains as poor and troubled as it is today, water and food resources will only get scarcer as it's divided among more and more people, as will whatever money the government makes exporting natural resources. That typically leads to instability and a higher risk of conflict. But if Tanzania puts its growing population to work building the economy, its future in 2100 could be promising.

The "dependency ratio" is the ratio of people under age 15 or over age 64 to the number of people age 15 to 64. The idea is that people who are very young or very old are dependent on others to provide for them. In Africa only 56% Africans are working-age, and the dependency ratio is 80%. That's a huge burden on society and a big contributor to poverty. But as the birth rate slows and those young dependents enter the work force, the dependency ratio is going to fall, dropping to 60% by 2055. There will be a lot of young men who could be employed, (creating a 'demographic dividend') but if resources are scarce, this can create political instability.

Europe, as it continues to shrink, will get the worst of the economic problems, with the average dependency ratio hitting an Africa-style 76% in 2055.

South America is expected to reach a deeply worrying 82% dependency ratio by 2100. Its population will rise until about 2050, at which point it will begin its own gradual population decline.

Asia's population growth, already slowing, is expected to peak about 50 years from now then start declining. Its dependency ratio, currently low, will stay low until it starts to rise around 2050.

In China, when the current generation retires, there will be a rapidly growing pool of retirees just as the workforce starts to shrink. Those aging retirees will be an enormous burden on the Chinese economy, which is just beginning to slow down.

North America continue to grow at a slow, sustainable rate, surpassing South America's overall population around 2070.

Because the United States can expect healthy, sustained growth, mostly due to immigration, it will continue to be a leader economically. Immigration helps the U.S. to do what very few other countries, including China, has yet figured out: how to be a rich country with a growing population. doclink

Art says: The article text concludes that population growth is the best assurance of economic growth. It never suggests that nearly doubling our existing population might have any bad consequences - only that some African nations might have adjustment problems due to population increases. It strongly advocates the dependency ratio theory which says that low fertility rates lead to economic decline.

However, the Washington Post author may not be representing the UN data correctly. His twist that dependency ratio is the major problem of concern when the population nearly doubles may not represent the views of UN demographers who gathered the data.

Karen says: The author seems to think that improved governance or resource management are going to be enough to overcome resource depletion, which, if you do the math, means that by 2100 the resources per person are going to be 1/8 of what they are today, unless something is done. This something has got to be very miraculous, such as pulling rabbits out of a hat, as Paul Ehrlich said. There aren't any more rabbits.

The author says "Even if too-high fertility might be bad for the region, individual families have every economic incentive to have lots of children." This statement is utterly false. In rural areas, large families outgrow their farmland. The grown or teen children, and sometimes the entire family, have no choice but to move to the city where they can possibly get work. If the economy is poor, there is no work. In the city, the child is even more of a financial burden. Often the children end up in the streets or given into slavery, or child labor, or - in the case of girls - married off early. Often the father has to seek a job overseas. If he is lucky, he can make enough to send money back to his family. In many cases, such as in Qatar, he becomes an indentured servant, and receives no payment.

The author asks: "How do you sustain your economy if the average worker spends a third of his or her life on retirement?"

First of all, people that can afford good medical care are the ones that live the longest. They are better off financially, and have been able to save for their retirement because they had fewer children to support.

Second, the fallacy of that logic is that, the reason that the U.S. has a high dependency ratio is because the current generation of retirees were baby boomers, resulting from a time when the U.S. fertility rate was 3.7. If a country increases its birth rate, or has high immigration to 'support' those retirees, then there will be another baby boom which will result in the same situation 20-30 years later, and even more people will be needed to support retirees and the economy. This perpetuates a vicious cycle of ever-increasing population, which will always and increasingly outstrip resources.

Third, often ignored is the fact that one of the contributors to population growth is people living longer, so that more generations are alive at one time. We older Americans often expect to be kept alive at great costs to society. Is it fair to younger generations to expect them to support us as we prolong our lives beyond natural limits, and in the meantime consume more of our world's stores of depleting resources? Wouldn't be better if us retirees help insure that our grandchildren have a future?

Art adds: Spain and Italy have nearly the world's highest dependency ratios, yet unemployment was 30% in 2013 and youth unemployment was 50%. Perhaps birthrates plummeted in part because they couldn't find enough jobs for those "scarce" workers. At any rate, immigrants are risking their lives to get to Italy to compete for work with this unemployed group. According to the dependency ratio theory, Italy should have a surplus of jobs, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

10 Things You Didn't Know About the World's Population

April 13 , 2015, UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund   By: Steven Edwards

On April 13, world leaders opened the 48th session of the Commission on Population and Development and took stock of the world's development and the welfare of its people. Below are 10 little-known facts about the world as it stands today.

1. The 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24, the largest youth population ever, creates an unprecedented potential for economic and social progress. A disproportionate percentage of this number live in developing countries. In the world's 48 least-developed nations, where extreme poverty, discrimination or lack of information hinders their productivity, they make up most of the population. With better education and opportunities, these young people's ideas, ideals and innovations could transform the future.

2. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as the women Charles Dickens described in nineteenth-century England. While global maternal mortality rates are down 45% since 1990, for every 100,000 babies born in sub-Saharan Africa, 510 women still die from maternal causes. Better access to maternal health care and family planning can save more these women.

3. About half of these women want to avoid pregnancy but do not use modern contraceptives. If they all had access to modern contraceptives, and if all pregnant women and newborns received appropriate care, maternal deaths would drop by an estimated 67%. Unintended pregnancies would fall by about 70%, and newborn deaths would drop by about 77%.

4. Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading killer of adolescent girls in developing countries, each day killing about 20,000 girls under age 18, many of whom become pregnant before they are physically mature. Adolescent births have declined since 1990, but progress has been uneven, and much more work remains to be done. Improving status and access to information reduces pregnancy, and pregnancy-related deaths.

5.Although child marriage is banned around the world, about 37,000 child marriages take place each day. It persists in areas of poverty and gender inequality. Empowering girls can play a powerful role in ending this practice. Girls who know their rights and are equipped with basic life-skills and education show far more resistance to child marriage.

6. In the early 1970s, women had on average 4.5 children each; by 2014, women had around 2.5 children each. Taking these declines into account, the UN has developed three population projections: the highest suggests the world could see 17 billion people by 2100, and the lowest estimates around 7 billion people - roughly the size of today's global population. The middle projection suggests that this century will end with 11 billion people.

7. Since 2005, while HIV-related deaths have fallen by 35%, and new HIV infections are falling as well, adolescents deaths are rising. We must do much more to provide adolescents with comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, services to help them prevent HIV transmission, and treatment for those who are infected.

8. Current trends will subject about 15 million girls between ages 15 and 19 to female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030. Globally, an estimated 100 million to 140 million girls and women today have undergone some form of FGM. The practice can cause chronic pain, infections, birth complications, and other adverse effects. In 15 key countries where UNFPA and UNICEF are jointly working to help end the practice, about 12,357 communities have committed to abandon FGM.

9. More people are displaced than ever before. In 2013, some 232 million people were international migrants, up from 175 million in 2000.

10. More than half of the global population is urban - and history's largest urbanization wave will continue. We need forward-looking policies to ensure that all residents are able to benefit from this trend. doclink

World Population Prospects: the 2012 Revision

January 20, 2015

Go to this site for all sorts of useful demographic statistics doclink

U.S. Birthrate Declines for Sixth Consecutive Year; Economy Could Be Factor

December 04 , 2014, New York Times   By: Tamar Lewin

The number of births in the US has declined over the last six years, bringing the U.S. to 9% below the high in 2007.

The fertility rate in the United States -- the average number of babies women from 15 to 44 bear over their lifetime -- dropped to a record low last year, to 1.86 babies, well below the 2.1 replacement level.

This decline has happened even though the number of women in their prime childbearing years, 20 to 39, has been growing since 2007.

Andrew J. Cherlin, a family demographer at Johns Hopkins University said Americans aren't worried about birthrates because "we have the faucet of immigration to turn on and off," At 1.8, "we're in the ballpark with the highest rates in Europe."

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution said "On just about every demographic indicator involving young adults, whether it's marriage, buying a home or delaying childbearing, it's all been on hold since the beginning of the recession."

Also more women are delaying pregnancy, often past their prime childbearing years.

The teenage birthrate has dropped substantially, and the birthrate for women in their 20s has been declining as well, births to older women are on the rise. doclink

Past, Present, and Future World Population and Average Air Temperatures

October 2014

Population (billions)YearYears to add 1 billionTemperature (C)

Source: UN Population Division and World Meteorological Organization.
* For period 1880-91 **  For year 2010

Experts Be Damned: World Population Will Continue to Rise

September 18 , 2014, Science   By: Sarah C. P. Williams

A new analysis, formulated by researchers from the U.N. and University of Washington (UW), projects that world population will continue to rise during the 21st century, leaving the planet to deal with 9 billion to 13 billion human inhabitants -- 4 billion of those in Africa -- by 2100. No leveling off is forecast.

Earlier projections said the world population would reach 9 billion by midcentury and then stop growing. However the projection was based on the assumption that high birth rates in Africa would steadily drop as access to contraceptives and women's education improved. Instead, birth rates in most African countries have remained stagnant or declined only slighty.

The new analysis involved statistical equations based on historical and real-time data that describe how the fertility rate is changing over time in different places around the world.

The new numbers will be used in models created by economists, environmentalists, and governments who use population estimates to predict pollution and global warming levels; prepare for epidemics; determine road, school, and other infrastructure requirements; and forecast worldwide economic trends. All of these plans need to be altered if the population is going to grow an extra few billion.

David Lam of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor said: "The world population doubled between 1960 and 1999 and we're never going to do that again. The population is leveling off and it's going to eventually level off under any of these scenarios, whether that's before 2100 or after." doclink

Myths, Misinformation and Misunderstandings

The following quotes (in red) are simply not true.

"Reproductive health" always a code word for abortion

Barbara Becker and Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute
This is a hard one to answer since it is so obviously wrong. First of all, it implies that people who believe that there is a population problem have a hidden agenda. Most population groups adhere to the Cairo+5 policy agreed upon by 179 nations and thousands of non-governmental agencies (including most population groups). They believe that family planning should be voluntary and should be integrated with reproductive health matters such as HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, infant mortality, breastfeeding, natural child-spacing, female genital mutilation, and so on. They also believe that good family planning reduces abortions.
"The population movement targets dark-skinned people for population control"
This is not true. It is like the "When did you stop beating your wife?" question. a) The vast majority of the population movement objects to the words 'population control'; they are more for voluntary family planning. After all, 1/3 of the population growth in the world is the result of incidental or unwanted pregnancies. b) The population movement is interested particularly in countries where the population growth is above the replacement rate of 2 children per family. As it turns out, many European countries and US caucasians have a replacement rate of 1.9 or lower, but there is little intention of targeting people of any color. Developing countries with fast growing populations need help, not control, for economic reasons, environmental reasons, and for sustainability which cannot be maintained if burgeoning populations outstrip their resources. Living heavily on the Earth - Interviews with John Bongaarts, Joel E. Cohen, and Allan Rosenfield. "Lots of people don't have the means of controlling their own fertility that they would like to have."
"The world doesn't have a population problem"
The world's population is still growing. Although the rate of growth has been declining since the 1960's, global population grows each year by approximately 80 million people, or the equivalent of the population of a country the size of Germany. The total world population has doubled in the last forty years. This is by far the fastest it has ever grown in terms of numbers of people. This has happened even though many people have reduced the numbers of children per couple to less than three. Population Momentum
The total population continues to grow for some time after fertility stabilizes at replacement level, or the number of births required for couples to replace themselves, which is 2.1 births per women. This phenomenon, known as population momentum, occurs when a large share of the population is young. If a large proportion of women are in their childbearing years, the total number of births can remain the same or even increase although the rate of childbearing per women falls. Momentum is a powerful demographic force and will account for about half of the world's population growth over the next 100 years. "Countries now accept that population concerns are at the heart of sustainable development strategies. Rapid population growth and high fertility hold back development. The help perpetuate poverty. They make it hard for countries to concentrate on the future, because resources are soaked up by present needs." UNPFA 1999 "We shouldn't worry - modern technology will solve our problems"
Ironically, it is modern technology that has put us in this fix. With the introduction of safer water and antibiotics, the infant mortality rate has dropped considerably, in nearly all countries, including the poorest of developing countries. As for better farming practices, prevention of soil erosion, smog emission controls, and other technologies, the world is not keeping up. Water per person is becoming scarcer and poorer in quality. Desertification and soil depletion in developing countries is a serious problem. Urban air pollution is the number one killer of small children. Even if the developed world has the technology, it is not getting to the developing world fast enough. Even in the United States, with its advanced technology, we suffer from urban sprawl, smog, loss of animal and plant species, loss of farmland, and fewer real forests. Plus little has been done to slow the depletion of the world's fisheries. In the meantime, the population is predicted to double in another 35- 50 years. Will technology keep up with this burden? The best thing that we can do with technology at this point is to make available the ways of family planning: condoms, contraceptives, sterilization. After all, most people WANT to limit their family size.
"If things get really bad, we can build space ships and take the extra people to another planet."
The trouble with space travel is that it will be expensive. Only a few people can afford it. 2.5 people are born in the world every second, so even if everyone could afford space travel, a space ship that held 9,000 people would have to be built and leave the planet every hour, just to keep up with the world's hourly population growth. Can you think of a country that would have the resources and the manpower to build, fuel, and send up a spaceship that big every hour? doclink

The late Professor Julian Simon of the University of Maryland has advocated continued population growth long into the future. In the newsletter of a major think tank in Washington, D.C., Simon wrote:
We have in our hands now - actually in our libraries - the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next 7 billion years... Even if no new knowledge were ever gained...we would be able to go on increasing our population forever. ( Simon 1995 )

If world population growth continues at a rate of 1% per year, (k = 0.01 per year) how long would it take for the population to grow until the number of people was equal to this estimate of the number of atoms in the known universe? This calls for us to find t in the following equation.

3 x 1085 = 5.7 x 109 exp(0.01 t) 5.26 x 1075 = exp(0.01 t) 174 = .01 t t = 17 thousand years
The estimated number of atoms in the known universe is about 3 times ten raised to the power 85. The population of the world at the time this was typed was thought to be 5.7 times 10 raised to the 9th power.
Albert A. Bartlett      


Common Clichs and Deceptions:

Enough Already website

This site talks about the following cliches and deceptions and more:

  • "We have enough food to feed the world, it's just not distributed equitably."
  • "Birth rates are dropping and the situation is under control."
  • "We need growth to generate more wealth."
  • "You growth-control nuts just hate people. We need to save the humans, not the whales."
  • "No one has any business suggesting that I limit my family size."
  • "All this talk of population control is a government plot to take away my freedoms."
  • "It's elitist to talk about growth control. You are merely trying to repress my culture."
  • "God will be the one to decide when there are too many people."

Congressman John Doolittle said:


" Long-term prices of the primary commodities that human beings extract or harvest from the earth -- cereals, timber, oil, minerals, and the like -- are far lower than 100 years ago. Prices convey information about scarcity -- and the information these prices convey is that primary commodities are less scarce than ever before."

Bob said:
That's the same argument Simon made over and over. It's also the same argument all other economists make. In short, it is this: if supply exceeds demand, prices fall; if demand exceeds supply, prices rise.

So Julian Simon misleads two people above. Most economists will agree that supply and demand are not the only factors. The costs of extracting or producing commodities is another factor that must be considered. With modern technology, we have been able to produce more and more at less cost - passing the savings on to the customers. doclink

Overpopulation Must Remain a Key Issue for Environmentalists

A second take on Alan Weisman’s Countdown
April 11 , 2014, Earth Island Journal   By: Kenneth Brower

Malthus predicted reduction in human numbers, either by what is now called "Malthusian catastrophe" - famine, disease, and war - or by voluntary methods to avert such catastrophe. This is not reductionism. It's just common sense.

Athanasiou writes: "It does this [buttresess right-wing pessimism and shoves social justice off the agenda] by telling a tale in which we humans are simply animals, and are fated by our natures to fill our niche to overflowing. But this just isn't true. We're animals, sure, but we live in history as well as nature, and as Marx pointed out long ago, we make our own history, or at least we try to."

Human reproductive behavior does not require inequity for population to go exponential. As Malthus pointed out, food increases arithmetically while population increases geometrically. "The power of population," Malthus wrote, "is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man." Equity considerations do figure in the equation, but the core problem is all in the math. There are already more billions of humans on Earth than any society, now matter how just, can support in the long run. doclink

Population: Still the Big Taboo

February 26 , 2014   By: Jonathan Porritt

Jonathan Porritt rated the eight leading environmental NGOs in the UK by asking them whether they would be prepared to commit to the following six actions:

-Accept and promote the findings of the Royal Society's People and Planet Report that population and consumption must be considered as indivisible, linked issues;

-Acknowledge publicly and actively communicate the crucial relevance of population to your organisation's mission and objectives;

-Support and advocate the principle of universal access to safe, affordable family planning for all women throughout the world;

-Call on the Government to act on the findings of the Royal Society's Report and draw up a national population policy;

-To use your organisation's considerable policy resources, voice and influence to speak and engage members of the wider public in an intelligent, informed and honest debate about population;

-Include the population factor in all relevant communications and policy pronouncements.

-With the honourable exception of Friends of the Earth (that has now developed a new and rather more progressive position on population, which), they're all pretty much where they were four decades ago. Despite a massive increase in human numbers and a correspondingly massive deterioration in the state of our physical environment.

Here is how he rated the 8 organizations, with WWF-UK coming in last.

1. Friends of the Earth 2. The Wildlife Trusts 3. CPRE 4. Greenpeace 5. RSPB 6. Wildfowl and Wetland Trust 7. National Trust 8. WWF-UK doclink

Karen Gaia says: WWF International has a Population, Health and Environment program in Madagascar. This is the real work that needs to be done. Porritt did not ask the right questions of the right people. Perhaps that's why WWF-UK did not find it necessary to respond.


Deans' Design Challenge to Address Growing Population

November 25, 2013, The Cost of Energy   By: Caleb Lee and Jake Meagher

On Dec. 3, The Deans' Design Challenge: Urban Life 2030, in collaboration with The Harvard Innovation Lab (I-lab) in Allston, invited students to propose solutions to the expected sociopolitical and environmental problems posed by population expansion. Although specific award amounts have not yet been announced, the sponsors will fund the top eight student proposals beyond the research and development stage.

This offer joins three other challenges targeting different disciplinary areas made last year: the Deans' Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge, the Deans' Health and Life Sciences Challenge, and the President's Challenge. I-Lab managing director Gordon S. Jones wants projects designed for real world implementation, and not just academic exercises. He said, "I view these Challenges as a mechanism for collaboration and the birthplace of ideas—some of which may get recognized, some of which will go on regardless of the Challenge."

The challenge has four focus areas: improving the functionality of cities, improving energy efficiency and sustainability, technological innovations in material consumption, and addressing the adverse effects posed by an older population. Participating Harvard Students will submit their proposals in February. A committee of experts from the University and outside community will judge them. Finalists will give presentations at an event in May.

The Challenge encourages teams to involve people from different departments and disciplines. Gordon Jones said that Challenge winners "almost always include some unique approach or insight and include some consideration for how they can be economically sustainable." doclink

Art says: This project calls for adapting to, rather than reducing, population growth.

Karen Gaia says: addressing the challenges rather than the solutions is like improving the ambulance service while failing to put brakes in cars.

It sounds like the Innovation Lab is afraid of the solutions, perhaps through a misunderstanding of what they are, and a mistaken fear that they might be unacceptable.

Examining the 'Overpopulation is a Myth' Website

November 14, 2012, WOA!! website - Karen Gaia Pitts

Obviously whoever is behind the website has not bothered to check that world grain consumption exceeded world grain production 8 of the last 12 years, and with the production side declining due to high temperatures, soil erosion, peak oil, overpumped water aquifers, paving over of farmland by urbanization, and the decline of the Green Revolution; and with the consumption side increasing by 2 billion more people in the next 25 years, even if everyone stopped driving their cars and stopped eating meat, it wouldn't be enough to avert mass starvation.

Furthermore, the website's calculation of future population is based on old U.N. projections, which were updated in 2011 because the former projections were too low, based on the assumption that fertility rates would continue to fall as much as they did the previous 20 years. The website also falsely claims that, because population hasn't continued to double as fast as it was, that we have no need to worry.

Reading more on this website, at: - the BIGGEST LIE on that page is: "The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) " .. has "been involved in programs with governments around the world who deny their women the right to choose the number and spacing of their children. Their complicit work with the infamous "one-child policy" mandated by the government of the People's Republic of China, uncovered by an investigation of the U.S. State Department in 2001, led the United States to pull its funding."

The UNFPA has bent over backwards to ensure the principles of the 1994 Cairo Convention, where 197 nations endorsed "the right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of one's children, and the right to a satisfying and safe sex life." The source of this lie is the Population Research Institute, headed by Stephen Mosher, who has called contraception 'baby poison pills'. The part about the UNFPA's work in China is also not true - the UNFPA was working with China to use voluntary contraception instead of abortion. doclink

Karen Gaia says: there are more bits on misinformation on the website. Send in your rebuttals to help us better counter such arguments when they come up in conversations with our acquaintances.

In Denial and Naysayers

Hans Rosling is Ecologically Illiterate

November 12 , 2013, Population Matters

Don't Panic - The Truth About Population: broadcast on BBC Two, 11:20PM Thu, 7 Nov 2013; available on BBC iPlayer until 9:59PM Thu, 14 Nov 2013 Duration 60 minutes (Editor's note: parts of this presentation may only be available in the U.K.; see )

This widely publicised programme is introduced as follows:

‘Using state-of-the-art 3D graphics and the timing of a stand-up comedian, world-famous statistician Professor Hans Rosling presents a spectacular portrait of our rapidly changing world. With seven billion people already on our planet, we often look to the future with dread, but Rosling's message is surprisingly upbeat. Almost unnoticed, we have actually begun to conquer the problems of rapid population growth and extreme poverty.

Across the world, even in countries like Bangladesh, families of just two children are now the norm - meaning that within a few generations, the population explosion will be over. A smaller proportion of people now live in extreme poverty than ever before in human history and the United Nations has set a target of eradicating it altogether within a few decades. In this as-live studio event, Rosling presents a statistical tour-de-force, including his 'ignorance survey', which demonstrates how British university graduates would be outperformed by chimpanzees in a test of knowledge about developing countries.'

To that, we respond as follows:

Yes, the UN projects that the human population may well peak at around 11 billion in around 100 years, time. Yes, the UN is seeking to end extreme poverty.

We in Population Matters are not reassured.

That is because the programme failed to consider in any detail resource scarcity and depletion, environmental degradation and climate change.

The Global Footprint Network, in association with the WWF and the Zoological Society of London, tell us that humanity is already consuming renewable ecological resources at a rate 50% higher than can be produced sustainably, while non-renewables are steadily depleted. The consequences, which are already with us, are rising resource prices, and environmental degradation. These will of course be increased by a world population some 60% higher than the current level, as well as by rapid industrialisation of countries which have not yet done so.

We cannot be sure to what extent the consequences will be a gradual decline in living standards and quality of life or a series of economic and environmental crises. However, we can be reasonably sure that changes in technological use or affluent lifestyles will be insufficient to avoid one or both of these in the absence of early stabilisation in human numbers.

The programme reported a widespread fall in the birth rate and seemed to leave it at that. In fact, birth rates are increasingly diverse, both between and within countries. The programme acknowledged that birth rates are a variable, not a given - they are affected by a wide range of factors, including the provision of family planning services and clear messages that smaller families are better. Consequently, if we act now, we can reduce that population peak to the enormous benefit of mankind, other species and future generations.

Rosling may be a good statistician, but he is an ecological illiterate. He assumes that ‘demography is destiny' - that all current trends will continue. He ignores the facts that: while the proportion of people in poverty is shrinking, the actual number of such people in the high fertility countries is rising; the fertility decline he celebrates has recently stalled - the UN increased their 2050 projections by 300 million this year; the danger of discontinuities or ‘tipping points', leading to a sharp increase in mortality, is visibly approaching (cf the ‘perfect storm' foreseen by the last UK Chief Scientist); the reduction in fertility rates does not happen automatically, but has taken years of effort, resources and priority to achieve in developing countries; no non-oil country has achieved economic take-off until it reduced its fertility to three births per woman or lower; and the timing of countries' achievement of replacement fertility radically affects their eventual population equilibrium number, which means there is great urgency in achieving it as quickly as possible.

It is also unclear what Rosling, like Fred Pearce and Danny Dorling, aims to achieve with his complacent message "The population problem is solved - don't worry about it". If he succeeded in persuading governments, both donors and recipients, to reduce the still inadequate priority they give to family planning and women's empowerment programmes, the effects would be: to increase the number of unwanted births, unsafe abortions, maternal deaths, and stunted children; to increase the rate of planetary degradation and the probability of crossing a tipping point, with a rapid increase in premature deaths; to reduce the number of people, the Earth can sustain in the long-term; and to reduce the likelihood of all our children enjoying a decent quality of life. Why does he do it?

For us, the lesson of the programme is not that the population problem is solved but that it is soluble if we take the actions required. doclink

Karen Gaia says: WOA has already covered Hans Rosling's presentation, in several articles below this. However we were unable to view the entire presentation and there were no transcripts to be found. We were unable to find anything that back up Rosling's claim that worry about population growth is unnecessary.

U.S.: What to Expect When a Right-Winger Tackles Demographics

February 13, 2013, Population Connection

Jonathan V. Last's new book "What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster" is getting a lot of attention, but is not painting the whole picture.

A total fertility rate of 1.9 births per woman - slightly below replacement - Is no reason to panic and start having procreative sex. The total fertility rate has always gone down during recessions. There's no reason to assume it won't bounce back to replacement level of around 2.1 - especially when American women on average still say they want two kids. Even if it doesn't, we've survived much worse things than a gray hair epidemic. "Children of Men" was NOT a documentary.

Jonathan V. Last is not a demographer. He's a conservative with a decidedly conservative agenda. The books was partly funded by the Phillips Foundation which is staffed with people from right-wing organizations, including Eagle Publishing, Regnery Publishing, The Heritage Foundation, The Claremont Institute, The American Spectator, Young America's Foundation and Focus on the Family, according to The Center for Media and Democracy.

Last admits: "Yes, I'm one of those anti-abortion nut jobs who thinks that every embryo is sacred life and abortion in killing an innocent and blah-blah-blah," and "there are, to my mind, compelling and overwhelming moral arguments in favor of banning abortion."

Last's hyperbole includes gems like: "The widespread practice of abortion culled an entire generation's worth of babies that otherwise might have been born." Which leaves you wondering which generation is missing.

Last blames expanded gay rights for reducing the birthrate, and refers to cohabitation as "shacking up," adding that "cohabitation looks less like an enlightening social change and more like a spreading social pathology working its way up the culture from society's have-nots." He adds: "Why did the lower-middle class decide, en masse, to stop emulating the elites and start patterning their sexual and marital behaviors on the lower classes?"

Those who choose not to have children do not escape his vile: "The child-free life is championed with the vigor and conviction of the early Marxists."

As for for Muslims, Last said that Europe "is almost certain to fade away in the next 50 years, replaced by a semi-hostile Islamic ummah ... the result of a policy choice made by adherents of a truly radical faith: multiculturalism."

Last wants FICA taxes cut by a third with a couple's first child, two-thirds with a second kid, and eliminated entirely with the birth of a third baby. Strangely, this prescription comes after he explained why monetary incentives such as subsidized day care and cash payments don't work. doclink

PRI President to Speak on Overpopulation at Georgetown Conference

January 23, 2013, Catholic PRWire

Steven Mosher spoke in January this year at "the nation's largest student-run pro-life Conference." His talk was entitled, "The Myth that Kills: Overpopulation as an Excuse for Genocide." The mass killing of innocent unborn children is horrible enough. When it is promoted on the basis of a myth, that is even worse.

If people see their children as a burden on society and the environment, what motivation is there to keep them? This myth has infiltrated all aspects of our lives and must be exposed and debunked in order for children to be seen as not only good, but beneficial to society. doclink

Karen Gaia says: PRI is the Population Reference Institute, which regularly gives out anti-choice, anti-birth control, and anti-sustainability messages information to our policy makers in Washington.

Go to Your Womb, Ross Douthat

December 05 , 2012, United Nations Population Division   By: Katha Pollitt

Ross Douthat is a Catholic-conservative columnist with The New York Times who should get pregnant himself so he could understand what women are up against in this world instead of urging women to have large families for the greater glory of God and country.

A recent Pew Research Center report that finds that the birthrate fell rapidly between 2007 and 2011 and now stands at the lowest point since 1920, when accurate record-keeping began. {Note: this is not the same as the total fertility rate, a more accurate measure, which was lowest in the 1970s}. In the report, the US-born birthrate declined by 6%, while for foreign-born women it was 14% and for Mexican-born women 23%. The reasons include: the recession makes people cautious; more women are using better birth control; the more seriously women take their education and their jobs, the less likely they are to have kids before they are good and ready. For college-educated women, raising a child not only costs a fortune while lowering a mother's income for life; standards of good mothering have been raised too high.

In his article "More Babies, Douthat believes that our low birthrate means we risk losing our "economic dynamism." Obviously he hasn't looked at the high birthrate places like sub-Saharan Africa, Gaza and the Philippines where people are barely getting by; and low-fertility nations like Germany and Japan, which are prospering. For Douthat, fewer kids mean fewer workers down the road to support Social Security, but also he says women having fewer babies -- or no babies -- is "a symptom of late-modern exhaustion" and "decadence."

Douthat suggests "a more family-friendly tax code, a push for more flexible work hours, or an effort to reduce the cost of college." Would you have an extra baby if you got a bigger tax deduction for it? If your boss let you work ten hours a day four days a week or one afternoon at home?

Funny that the birthrate is lowest in patriarchal countries where having a baby means you stay home forever: Italy, Spain, Greece, Japan, Singapore and Poland. How would you like to be a Japanese or Polish or Italian housewife, Ross Douthat? I thought not.

I'm not so sure why we want more people on our crowded, overheated planet, where world population is projected to increase by 2 billion before finally beginning to fall. But if Douthat really thought through what it means to have and raise a child these days, I'm sure he could come up with a lot of great ways to help women and families. The trouble is, he couldn't be a Republican anymore. He'd be a socialist. doclink

U.S.: The Crisis Project: Birth Control Kills the Baby?

August 28 , 2012, Feministing   By: Zerlina

The Crisis Project is a new movement started by young people to investigate the fraud behind Crisis Pregnancy Centers, or as I like to call them Crisis Propaganda Centers. We've written a lot about CPCs on this site, so most of you already know that they are in some cases tax payer funded right wing anti-choice disasters.

Many women walk into a CPC unaware that they are being given advice from people who are not required to be medical personnel and that have an anti-choice agenda when dispensing "advice" on their reproductive health and family planning options.

The Crisis Project went into CPCs undercover with cameras to film some of the interactions and what they found is disturbing. In the encounter below the undercover young college aged woman enters the CPC asking for a pregnancy test and when the test comes back negative, she inquires about starting on the birth control pill.

Via The Crisis Project:

The counselor responds, "we don't sell baby-killing things." The Birthright counselor later refers to birth control as "death and destruction drugs." While advising our investigator against seeking out birth control, the Birthright counselor explicitly says that birth control "kills a baby." The Birthright counselor continues to tell our investigator that some doctors will "probably laugh at " if she were to ask them about the risks associated with hormonal contraceptives. doclink

Karen Gaia says: The CPC employee actually said it: "That's our whole purpose here…is to…keep people from…knowing what's going on inside their body."

Science Group: UN Rio+20 Summit Must Reduce Global Population

June 14 , 2012, New American

Another very skewed view. What is the best way to correct such misconceptions? First we must find out where they are coming from. Words highlighted in yellow are some of the inaccurate hot-button words that should be corrected

Governments and @dictators assembling in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development must adopt even more @stringent policies to reduce the number of people in the world and make sure that those @who @remain stop consuming so much, a taxpayer-funded network of more than 100 science institutions demanded in a newly released statement.

Meanwhile, new economic models are also needed, claimed scientists associated with the IAP Global Network of Science Academies. Politics and @ethics — in other words, the @will and @morality of the people — cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the UN "sustainability" @regime any longer; at least not if the world is to be saved from its primary @enemy: humanity.

"For too long, population and consumption have been left off the table due to political and ethical sensitivities," complained U.K. Royal Society fellow Charles Godfray. "These are issues that affect developed and developing nations alike, and we must take responsibility for them together."

The draft UN agreement being developed by national governments and environmental activist groups already deals with @population @control and reducing consumption. But to the @anti-population scientist coalition, whose controversial joint statement is being widely touted in the global media, more must be done.

The IAP statement claimed "The combination of unsustainable consumption patterns, especially in high-income countries, and of the number of people on the planet, directly affects the capacity of the earth to support its natural biodiversity."

The network demanded "urgent action" from national and global policy makers, offering a list of highly controversial recommendations to achieve the ever-elusive goal of what the UN calls "sustainability."

Among other points, the statement urged rulers to consider ways to restrict both population and consumption through @coercive policies at all levels of government. Virtually every field of policy making should be put at the service of the agenda: poverty, "gender equality," education, health, "global governance," economic development, the environment, and more.

"If the right conditions are in place, measures that reduce fertility rates while respecting human rights can stimulate and facilitate economic development, improve health and living standards, and increase political and social stability and security," the network claimed. People living in richer nations, meanwhile, @need to become much poorer.

The collection of scientists also demanded that "everyone" have taxpayer-funded access to "reproductive health" and "family planning" - terms which @generally @refer @to contraception, sterilization, and abortion.

According to estimates cited in the statement, by 2050, there might be between 8 billion and 11 billion people on earth, up from around 7 billion today. That is simply too many humans for the planet to handle, claim

"Give up use of our abundant fossil fuels, the developed nations will revert back to 19th century lifestyles and developing nations have no hope of uplifting themselves from the poverty they have endured for centuries," concluded Rust, who has over 50 years of experience dealing with energy-related subjects.

But the UN and its member governments - mostly @despotic regimes of different varieties - are not giving up yet. Official documents released in recent months show that the global body hopes to use the Rio+20 gathering to amass a vast array of new @powers. The purpose: literally re-shaping human civilization. Even people's @thoughts and lifestyles are in the crosshairs.

Also on the agenda, according to UN documents, is the erection of a worldwide @regime of central planning under the guise of moving toward what the organization touts as a "green economy."

Local and state officials across America, for example, under increasing pressure from their constituents, are scrambling to protect citizens and property rights from Agenda 21, the global "sustainability" regime adopted at the first "Earth Summit" two decades ago. Alabama just banned it. And the anti-UN outcry is only getting louder.

Please read the entire article at if you want to make your blood boil. doclink

The "Seven Billion" Strategy, and Why We Need a New One

April 19, 2012

For 26 years, PopDev (and Betsy Hartmann) has worked at an intersection of environment, development, anti-militarism, and reproductive freedom. The center of our work is the commitment to challenge the conventional belief that population growth is a main force behind social problems, from famine and violent conflict, to ecosystem degradation and even climate change. We strive to bring those conversations back to the structures of global inequality, colonization, and over-consumption that actually drive them.

For some, it challenges a fundamental understanding of the world to suggest that there are not actually too many people on the planet — but instead an unsustainable, industrially demanding level of consumption by a minority of those people.

Researchers like David Satterthwaite point out that the consumption levels of two actual humans plucked at random from that seven billion may vary from each other by a factor of up to one thousand.

Do I believe that the planet can sustain unchecked exponential population growth? No. I also don't think that's what the earth is faced with, if people have access to affordable, culturally competent, unstigmatized, full-spectrum reproductive health care.

In the anti-sex, imperialist, misogynist worldview of folks like Thomas Malthus, the 18th century white English clergyman who gave us the idea of unchecked population growth, people were powerless against the forces of reproduction. In that worldview, the fear certainly makes sense.

So to folks who are tying access to contraceptives and abortion, or women's education and economic empowerment campaigns, to the need to slow population growth, I say: PLEASE STOP.

Please consider that these goals are good, and powerful, and necessary in their own right. Please recognize that when we tie people's needs and interests to a goal held for them by other, perhaps more powerful and wealthy, people it ties the campaign to meet their needs to upholding that goal.

Specifically, it ties the value of girls and women's lives, education and well-being to the beliefs other people have about how many children they should be having, and when.

And when we invoke the language of "overpopulation," of "too many people," of "can't feed em don't breed em," these are the stories we are actually invoking. Whether we know it or not. Whether we are honest about it or not. Whether we care or not.

Black, Puerto Rican, and Indigenous women in the United States sterilized without their consent, or sometimes even their knowledge, for generations. Immigrant women targeted in many states by punitive legislation meant to vilify their reproduction. Romani women in Eastern Europe targeted by social workers for sterilization. HIV+ women in Kenya offered cash bribes by US-based non-profits to go on long-term birth control. More than 300,000 Quechua women and men sterilized in Peru at the turn of this century, in a campaign with political support from USAID.

So I ask you, whether or not we agree about the math or even the ethics, please find a new strategy. Because I want to fight at your side for our shared goals. But I'm just not willing to turn my back on so many people's lived experiences in order to do it.

Follow the link to read the excellent, revealing and energized debate that has taken place in the comment section of the PopDev blog. doclink

Karen Gaia replies:

PopDev is mistakenly associating all population-concerned with Malthus, who is somehow considered an ogre for being a typical male in his day and age, but still had a BIG point worrying about starvation of the masses.

It is concerns about population growth, and it's resulting poverty, that has led country after country to install voluntary family planning, reproductive health, and girls' education programs. Why would we who are population-concerned want to mess with something that really works?

I had my first experience with family planning 49 years ago, when contraception first became legal and my doctor asked if I wanted to have another child right away, or did I want to do something about it. If the doctor was motivated by population concerns, what's wrong with that? Good thing he did, or I would have had twice as many children, as would have many others.

You are hurting a whole lot of people - and some of them will die - who will not get access to the family planning that they need and want, because conservatives who make funding policy listen to you and your labeling those of us who are concerned about starvation as racist.

And you are wrong about there being enough food for everyone in the near future - even if the rich stopped eating meat, there wouldn't be enough. You just have been reading the wrong material.

U.S.: Contraception 'Savings' Ignores Economic Impact

March 10, 2012, Sacramento Bee

President Barack Obama's new mandate that insurance companies provide free contraception and sterilization services may actually be a brilliant budget move that will be particularly helpful to states like California. After all, if you don't have children, insurers and government won't be forced to pay for your maternity and child health services.

Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel: "The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in 2009 that contraception "will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government" and will help "stimulate the economy."

Thus the newest health care cost containment strategy appears to be subsidizing women to avoid having children, balance budgets on the backs of not-to-be-born children.

California already has a rapidly graying population, with one in five Californians now 60 years of age or older. In 2010 the state's birth rate fell to its lowest level since 1935, and its fertility rate, the rate at which a society replaces itself through births, has fallen to 1.94, below the 2.1 replacement level, according the California Dept. of Finance. Californians are not having enough babies to replace themselves.

The U.S. total fertility rate, which was 3.17 in 1964, has fallen to 2.06.

By subsidizing free birth control, federal policy appears to be designed to drive these birth rates down even further. We can soon cut budgets for schools, teachers, child health, welfare and other services.

But fewer children mean fewer job creators, fewer employees, fewer taxpayers a shrinking economy, and an even tougher burden on Social Security, which is already facing a financial crisis, with only three workers supporting each retiree compared to 16 workers in 1950, as well as on Medicare and other programs.

Fewer children means less demand for homes, frustrating the ability of the housing market to rebound.

Our poor economy, with an unemployment rate among the highest in the nation, is propelling people to leave the state instead. California's population grew only 0.7% in 2011.

By looking at Europe, we can see where this trend will lead. In Germany, the fertility rate has plummeted to 1.38 children per mother. Germany, France, Italy and other nations, worried about the serious weakening of their economies from sliding birth rates, have now inaugurated tax and cash incentives for having children.

Decisions on birth and birth control should be made by individuals based on their own family and faith considerations, not mandated and manipulated by government. doclink

Karen Gaia says: having birth control freely available is not a mandate to use them. If a woman did not have birth control, she would have 12 to 15 children in her lifetime, assuming all of the children lived. If we had more children, we would increase the burden on the current working generation, already overloaded with unemployment. If we produced more children, where would we get the jobs for them? We are already highly unemployed.

Evan says: The suggestion that increasing birth rates will aid economic growth is at best a proposal for a most dangerous Ponzi scheme. All such schemes are doomed to collapse, in this case leading to the very catastrophe Bengs deplores, "...a serious negative impact on our future." Truly, "sustainable growth is an oxymoron." Continued growth increasingly stresses available water supplies and productive land, and worsens gridlock, toxic wastes, and air pollution. Continued growth will endanger our children's future.

If everyone burned through resources at Californians' present rate, we would require more than five Earths. This cannot continue indefinitely. On the other hand, conservation and family planning can lead us to a viable California. The availability of contraception can help reduce the present 40-50% rate of unplanned pregnancies. This is a goal we can all support. Helping empower women to make their own decisions about family size is to society's benefit. We must end our attempts at growth on the backs of women.