World Population Awareness

Educational Materials and Literature

May 06, 2015

Videos, Media

A Woman in Guediawaye: Family Planning for Health and Development in Senegal

April 29, 2015

The CSIS Global Health Policy Center produced a new video, A Woman in Guédiawaye: Family Planning for Health and Development in Senegal. The video follows a young woman, Anta Ba, from Guédiawaye, a poor urban area of Dakar, who explains why she decided to access family planning, despite her husband's opposition, and why these services matter for her own life and for women's health and empowerment in Senegal. Through her story, and through the voices of other champions of family planning in Senegal-government and NGO health workers, an imam, and the Minister of Health-the video illustrates new approaches to expanding access to family planning as well as the challenges ahead. doclink

Global Population and Environment 101

January 07, 2015, Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program

See doclink

Young People Deserve to Have This Choice. Birth Control Makes it Possible.

October 09 , 2014, Population Action International

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released new recommendations encouraging the use of long-acting contraceptives such as implants and intrauterine devices (IUDS) among teens. Unlike pills and condoms—the most-popular methods among young people—long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) don't require the user to DO anything to prevent pregnancy once the device is inserted, leaving less chance of a memory lapse or mishap resulting in an unintended pregnancy.

Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote a book entitled Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage which explains that often, young people unexpectedly become parents because they are either not using contraception or using it ineffectively. 70% of pregnancies to unmarried women under 30 are unintended. doclink

World Population Video

March 20 , 2015

Watch human population grow from 1 CE to present and see projected growth in under six minutes. This "dot" video is one of our most popular teaching tools. Recommended for grades six and up. An interactive companion site to the video will launch in July 2015. doclink

Meltwater Pulse 2B

June 01 , 2014, Yale Climate Connections

Independent videographer Peter Sinclair's 'This is Not Cool' video explores recent headline-grabbing research on Antarctic glacial melting. doclink

Health of People & Environment in Lake Victoria Basin

December 08, 2014, You Tube

The HoPE-LVB project reduces threats to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem degradation in the Lake Victoria Basin while simultaneously increasing access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health to improve maternal and child health in project communities. The project will develop and test two scalable models for building capacity and promoting an integrated set of Population, Health, and Environment interventions, which will be adopted by communities, local governments, or national governments.

28 minutes doclink

Losing Our Energy Slaves

October 16, 2014, Jack Alpert

Declining energy kills billions. doclink

Steady State Economy: Enough is Enough

January 30, 2014

The global economy is growing beyond the capacity of the biosphere. In recent times, environmental scientists have demonstrated convulsive creativity as they deliver this message with increasingly alarming language (too bad economists and politicians are willfully ignoring the alarms to pursue short-term gains). What we need right now is a new economic blueprint that can meet people's needs without undermining the life-support systems of the planet.

That's why Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill wrote the book Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources. And that's why Tom Bliss has produced and directed a video based on the book. In eighteen minutes, the video reviews the main principles of a sustainable economy and describes how to begin the transition. doclink

Family Planning and Well-Being in Bangladesh

February 2013, Population Reference Bureau

While the average family in Bangladesh today has about four children fewer than their parents' generation, that family has about six times the purchasing power. Using Trendalyzer, this PRB ENGAGE Snapshot examines how fertility and income have changed in Bangladesh, and highlights the role that family planning can play in helping families achieve higher levels of education and in accumulating more wealth.

This short video can be viewed online as well as downloaded for future use. The video can be embedded into PowerPoint and other presentations, as well as used independently as an educational tool. doclink

Why the Next 20 Years Will Be Completely Unlike the Last 20

June 20 , 2014, Peak Prosperity

Let's pull back for a moment and look at the Really Big Picture:

We're facing a future in which the economic growth the world has enjoyed over the past century can no longer continue.

Over-indebtedness, mal-investment, cronyism, manipulation, and misguided policymaking have all certainly contributed to our current predicament. But the principal causes are much bigger. And much harder to address.

Simply put, we're entering an era when it's becoming increasingly difficult to obtain the resources we need -- at the cost we need -- to power the economic activity we need.

The trends of resource depletion, escalating mining & drilling costs, species die-offs, emptying aquifers, declining energy yields and the like are increasingly pitting the world's 7 billion people (soon to be 9 billion before 2050) against each other in competition for the remaining biomass and minerals that make industry possible.

As a result, massive changes to our way of life are in store. No matter where each of us lives.

This brand-new video shines a bright light on these trends and the risks we face as a result. But it also offers hope. If we take action now, while there's still time, there's much we can do not only to reduce our personal vulnerability to these threats, but also to step into this new future with newfound optimism.

Length: Approx. one hour doclink


By 2050, 70% of the World's Population Will Be Urban. Is That a Good Thing?

2012, UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund

Infographic. UNICEF , with the help of design studio Periscopic, released "An Urban World" to answer this question. It's an interactive, HTML5 visualization of the world from the years 1950-2050. But rather than showing our geographic boundaries, every country is depicted only by their population living in urban environments.

"Now, whether this ends up being a good or bad thing--whether we're talking about urban slums or smartly scaled communities, loosely populated expanses of efficient agriculture, or underdeveloped countrysides stricken by poverty--none of that is written on this map because none of that is written just yet. But it's hard to watch these bubbles grow, expanding into one another in a battle for your mere vision (let alone food, housing, and wages) and earnestly expect that everything is just going to be all right." doclink

Food for 9 Billion

January 2012, Center for Investigative Reporting

"Food for 9 Billion" is a yearlong examination of the challenge of feeding the world at a time of growing demand, changing diets, rising food and energy prices, shrinking land and water resources, and accelerating climate change. It is a collaborative project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, Homelands Productions, PBS NEWSHOUR and American Public Media's Marketplace

Interactive Map: World Food Stats:

Timeline: Food Through the Ages: doclink

The Cassandra Dilemma - What to Do About It

December 17, 2011, The Faminarchy Project

The legendary Cassandra had perfect knowledge of the future (she even warned the Trojans about the Trojan horse) and yet nobody would ever believe her. Today modern day Cassandras clearly understand that the current trends in climate disruption, peak oil, water depletion, and soil degradation, combined with a rapidly increasing human population, could soon result in a disaster of unimaginable proportions.

The (less informed) public simply does not believe us. Often they will argue that we must be wrong - even though they are often fundamentally unaware of the facts.

A crisis that unfolds in slow motion is easy to ignore. As each day comes and goes - peak oil, population growth, soil degradation, water shortages, and climate disruption all seem to be no worse than the day before. The vast majority of people never notice the gradual, yet inexorable deterioration of our planet's life support system. For most, their short term problems overwhelm any desire to consider the long term issues.

People engaged in their own day-to-day problems and have little time or energy left over to think about a problem that will not impact them for several decades into the future. "I've already got enough stuff to worry about, " they say.

People seem unable to "conceptualize a future," to "see" what lay ahead for them. They are stuck.

Suppose we have a camera that lets us see (literally) into the future to a time during the height of the predicted collapse. Food is scarce, people are desperate, chaos and extreme violence are rampant, children are killing other children, cannibalism becomes commonplace. Would that jolt people out of their apathy and denial? I think so!

And today, the single most successful NGO effort to reduce population comes from The Population Media Center in the form of television soap operas. They have taken the entertainment-education theories of Miguel Sabido and created soap operas that portray an improved lifestyle through educating women and providing them with birth choices. These television shows clearly conceptualize a better future if certain behaviors are adopted. And they work.

But instead, we Cassandras continue putting out scholarly essays, books, and videos. We attempt to convince through our solid logic and our depth of information. We debate the nits and details of peak oil and population projections.

A creative and unique solution to this problem has two parts: first a book called "The Corn Guild". This is a work of fiction, a fast-paced thriller intended for the general public. It covers a period from 2028 to 2036, a period that chronicles the beginning of collapse (a time when the general public is just beginning to be concerned and scared), to the actual collapse event in the year 2036. And while it is primarily intended to be an accessible, easy, read, it also educates the reader along the way.

The second part - the big part - the unique and creative part - is called "The Faminarchy Project". The Faminarchy project is a website ( where The Corn Guild book can be read (for free) in its entirety.

On the Faminarchy website, visitors are asked to write short story about what will happen during this collapse event in 2036. There are several examples of possible plot lines provided. These 'famine stories' will be published on the website. Writers are encouraged to use their imaginations to create horrifying and extreme stories of chaos and violence. These famine stories will then force those who read them, and especially those who write them, to experience a clear conceptualization of our shared future.

It is essential that we find a way to increase awareness of the real danger ahead. Only then can steps be taken to turn us away from the abyss. doclink

Population Connection Educational Materials

October 2010

Population Connection has a great program for teachers. You can help by talking to your local schools to see if you can introduce these materials into the curriculum. You can also volunteer your serves as a guest teacher on the topic of sustainability and population, using these same materials. doclink

Group Activites

Earth, the Apple of Our Eye

October 17 , 2013, Population Connection

A visual demonstration (using an apple to represent the earth) of the limited sources of food available from Earth's land, followed by discussion of how to feed a growing population. Only about three percent of the Earth's surface is capable of growing food. Over the past century, farming technology has made it possible to produce more food from the world's limited cropland to feed the growing world's population. However, much of this arable (fa...
. . . more doclink

Follow the link in the headline to see the entire lesson.
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Understanding Exponential Growth

September 08 , 2013, World Population Balance

Click on the link to see a slide show showing how quickly exponential growth takes over. doclink

What is Missing? - Interactive Site

August 24 , 2012, What is Missing Website

An interesting interactive global map on species loss and environmental destruction. The viewer is invited to supply his or her own 'memory' of the way things were and no longer are - i.e., what is missing. doclink

World Population Growth Infographic

October 2010, Upack.ocm

Follow the headline link to see how to put this informative graphic on you web page or your Facebook home page.
Population Growth


Conservation Through Having Smaller Famlies

2005, Sustainable Population Australia

This delightful children's book (follow the link) explains the global economy in a way Samuelson never did. Then it covers ecology and population. You may want to give this to a young person you know - and to a few adults as well. doclink

Play Examines Teen Sexuality; Local Schools to Host Sexploration for Students 12 to 16 Years Old

September 21, 2004, Planned Parenthood

A play written by drama teacher Chris Lane is aimed at students 12 to 16 and deals with sex from abstinence to oral sex. It also touches on relationships, peer pressure, birth control, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. It provides information about resources to help teens deal with sexual problems and questions. In 1999, trustees would not ban the play, Live On Stage Uncensored, although its treatment of teen sex issues generated an outcry among religious lobbyists and a minority of parents saying the play contributed to moral decay. Lane said his play gives "tactful" treatment to an important subject. The production features characters named Boy and Girl in a series of colourful vignettes, examines sex in a careful way and urges teens to make responsible choices. It encourages kids to discuss the subject in a constructive way. Lane has written plays about bullying and established a theatre company that tours schools. Planned Parenthood will make the play available to teachers and principals. doclink

Story Ideas

Great Human Population Cartoon From Bizarro

December 10, 2011,

Click to enlarge doclink

Does One Immigrant Make An Impact?

March 2004, Gregory Bungo

I'm reminded of one of the paradoxes of the ancient Greek philosopher Zeno. Zeno asks whether a single millet seed makes a sound when it falls to the ground. His companion answers "no". Zeno asks whether a bushel of millet seeds make a sound when dropped. The answer, of course, is "yes". So either it is impossible for a bushel of seeds to make a noise when dropped, since the bushel consists of a finite number of silent single seeds, or it is impossible for a single seed to be silent when dropped. I think most people would agree that the single seed makes a noise when it is dropped, but we just can't hear it.

Similarly, we may not notice the ecological damage from one year's (or one person's) immigration, but there is damage, nonetheless. And when we have several years of immigration, we do notice the damage. doclink

Lessons of the Ancients - Ephesians Provide a Cautionary Tale About Sustainability

June 17, 2006, Tallahassee Democrat

The residents of the ancient metropolis of Ephesus never considered the impermanence of their home.

They were part of the Roman Empire, the most powerful empire on earth, one of the most desirable cities in the civilized world, with a population of at least 250,000.

Ephesus today is an amazing testament to the engineering and of its Greek and Roman former residents.

And yet, for the past 1,500 years, after river silt destroyed its harbor, Ephesus has remained a dead city. The lessons of the Ephesians, are very practical.

Two thousand years ago, its residents assumed that Ephesus would be teeming with children, merchants and politicians as long as there was a sunrise.

We have to wonder whether in 2,000 years, Venice, Italy, or New Orleans will be like Ephesus today.

Just as the colonists of Ephesus never imagined that their access to the Aegean would go the way of the Hittites, New Orleans' founders never conceived that their descendants would permit the destruction of thousands of acres of wetlands that provided a buffer against nature's wrath.

In many cases, we allow things to happen because of our reluctance to alter course. We could be doing a lot of things to save us from ourselves.

We can't assume, that we can continue to do things as we've always done and still go on forever. That nature won't eventually have her way.

We must consider not only how a product is made but how it is to be used. If we don't start to think more sustainably future generations will see us the way we moderns see Ephesus. doclink

Karen Gaia says - Ephesus was well-situated because it was both a port, close to the water, and had hills to protect it, but the city lost its vital access to the sea due to erosion from nearby farming that silted in the waterways. A growing population meant more food was needed, and therefore more farms, and thus the more the water channel was clogged.


Ecogeek of the Week: Daniel Quinn

July 10, 2007, Green Options

Daniel Quinn, in his most famous work, Ishmael, and throughout his other works, his ideas repeat: the need to examine the cultural myths which we are steeped in from birth, the necessity of adopting new ways of thinking in order to change our behavior. In many of his books he tackles the subjects of sustainability and the environment. Quinn says "I know that there's going to be an end to fossil fuel, and when it comes, we'd better have in place a petroleum-free way of feeding ourselves or it's going to get real ugly around here." "Only the prospect of worldwide mind-change gives me hope for the future. It has happened before, in the Renaissance. It happened in the Soviet Union, bringing about its collapse. It can happen again, and it must -- or indeed we are doomed." What gives Quinn hope is that the number of books published and read on the subject has risen steadily. "It is completely inevitable that our population must continue to grow to 8 billion, 10 billion, 12 billion. If this happens, I'm afraid I see no hope for our species." The world's biologists now concur that we have entered a period of mass extinction as great as any such period of the past. Sustaining 6.5 billion of us costs the world as many as 75, 100, or 200 species a day (the United Nations recently offered the lowest of these estimates). Eventually, the ecological structures that sustain human life will collapse if this continues. Like all other species, our population increases whenever whenever we increase food production. Food production is under our control; if we cease increasing food production, then our population will of necessity cease to grow. If x amount of food is needed to sustain a population of 6.5 billion of us, then that population can't grow to 10 billion if we continue to produce only x amount of food.

If there are still people here in 200 years, they won't be living the way we do, because if people go on living the way we do, then there will be no people here in 200 years. If there are still people here in 200 years, they won't be thinking the way we do, because if people go on thinking the way we do, then they will go on living the way we do? and there will be no people here in 200 years. You could probably cut that down to 100 years. I would say that the tipping point is probably going to have to occur in the next 25 to 50 years? more likely 25 than 50.

It's vital that we get it into our heads that we are members of a community and dependent on that community the same way every other member is. We cannot exist apart from it. Earthworms are more important to the life of this planet than humans are, and if earthworms disappear, we humans will follow very soon after. We don't "own" that community. We need it; it doesn't need us.

Ideas like Apple's iPhone fits into our culture of harm by reassuring us that everything is just getting better and better and better and better, when in fact we are teetering on the brink of catastrophe. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I do not agree with Quinn when he fails to mention family planning as the solution. I do agree that we will need a major sea-change to cut our consumption and change our ways of equating quality of life with material goods -- which must be done in addition to family planning.

Book List

OVER: Overpopulation, Overdevelopment, Overshoot: View this entire amazing 316-pg coffee table photo book online!

April 05 , 2015, Global Population Speakout (GPSO)

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) contains powerful and evocative images showing the ecological and social tragedies of humanity's ballooning numbers and consumption. It retails for $50, but as part of Speak Out you can request free books to use raising awareness about these important and urgent issues. doclink

Book Review: Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future

by Ben J. Wattenberg (2004)
March 19, 2014   By: Reviewed by Art Elphick

With a title including the word "depopulation," I expected to find many points of disagreement with Wattenberg's book, but Wattenberg actually says very little that I haven't read and said myself. However, the one thing Wattenberg fails to mention could lead the reader to a false sense that all is well. Wattenberg never says that we have a serious population problem now or that, if demographic forecasts are correct, overpopulation and over-consumption will continue to worsen.

Wattenberg says that Total Fertility Rates (TFRs) have been falling in most nations around the world (true). In most prosperous nations TFRs have been falling for more than forty years (true). The TFRs for most prosperous nations are currently below replacement levels (true). The TFRs for most lesser-developed nations are currently falling (true). The world-wide TFR is 2.5 - 2.7 births per woman, the lowest it has been (true). Most demographers estimate that the world population will exceed nine billion by 2050, but estimates differ (true). At that point, if TFRs continue falling at current rates, the population will peak (true, and hopefully they will). Nations with low TFRs and long life expectancies will need to import workers or will face higher costs per worker to care for the aged (true). Many nations dislike taking immigrants, so they will face a dilemma (true).

What about species extinctions, world-wide fish stock depletions, over-forestation, desertification, over-tapped aquifers, river mouth dead zones, dying reefs, toxic air, ocean acidification, climate change? These are serious problems now, so even a world population of 7.17 billion is unsustainable. And if Wattenberg and his demographer sources have it right, the population will increase by 28% and per-capita consumption rates will increase possibly more than that for a combined consumption increase of more than 50% by 2050. Wattenberg predicts that population growth will reverse automatically after 2050 - decades after most of the horses have left the barn. All told, Mr. Wattenberg told only half of the story, but documented that part very well. doclink

Growthbusters Book List

November 2013, Growth Busters

The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg

Enough is Enough by Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill

Supply Shock by Brian Czech

Managing Without Growth by Peter Victor

Scarcity by Chris Clugston

Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train by Brian Czech

Bottleneck by William Catton

Life on the Brink edited by Phil Cafaro and Eileen

Countdown by Alan Weisman

Ten Billion by Stephen Emmott

Better, Not Bigger by Eben Fodor

The Transition Companion by Rob Hopkins

Stepping Lightly by Mark Burch

Voluntary Simplicity by Samuel Alexander

The Hidden Door by Mark Burch

True Wealth by Juliet Schor

Peter Victor's Managing Without Growth computer models doclink

State of the World 2013 Electronic Version for Only US$3.99, for a Limited Time

April 18, 2013

Earlier this week, Worldwatch launched State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? to a crowded room of friends and supporters. If you were unable to participate in the event, we will have videos of the symposium available shortly.

To commemorate the launch, the e-book versions of the report are now available for only US$3.99, for a limited time only - . And you can still purchase hard copies of the report from our bookstore ($22) doclink

Have You Had Enough? a Plan for a Sustainable Economy

January 18, 2013,   By: Suzanne York,

Suzanne York, of describes a new book, Enough is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources, which constructs a realistic and actionable plan that should guide all of us as we confront increasingly dire and critical issues facing the planet. The book describes how we can transition from a global economic system dependent upon unsustainable and endless growth to a steady-state, prosperous, yet non-growing economy, where there are "stable or mildly fluctuating levels in population and consumption of energy and material."

Solutions include: establishing more worker-owned companies, prohibiting banks from issuing money as debt, local currencies, and work-time reduction.

Proposed policies include: limit the use of materials and energy to sustainable levels; stabilize population through compassionate and non-coercive means; achieve a fair distribution of income and wealth; reform monetary and financial systems for stability; change the way we measure progress.

The authors recognize that "hidden in population numbers are real people." Unless compassionate, non-coercive policies are devised, any population policy will ultimately not work. Successful policies include actions such as educating girls, empowering women, and providing family planning services.

As for admitting foreign workers with specific skills to fill jobs, the authors suggest that "Instead of recruiting educated and entrepreneurial people from abroad, wealthy nations should cultivate talent at home and encourage nations abroad to retain their most capable workers." doclink

Karen Gaia says: I am interested to hear your comments on this book. Send to

Life on the Brink

December 27 , 2012, Rewilding Institute

Life on The Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation, published by the University of Georgia Press earlier in December, is an anthology edited by Eileen Crist (Virginia Tech) and Phil Cafaro (Colorado State).

Contributors include PMC's Bill Ryerson, Joe Bish, Albert Bartlett, Lester Brown, Tom Butler, Philip Cafaro, Martha Campbell, William R. Catton Jr., Eileen Crist, Anne Ehrlich, Paul Ehrlich, Robert Engelman, Dave Foreman, Amy Gulick, Ronnie Hawkins, Leon Kolankiewicz, Richard Lamm, Jeffrey McKee, Stephanie Mills, Roderick Nash, Tim Palmer, Charmayne Palomba, Winthrop Staples III, Captain Paul Watson, Don Weeden, George Wuerthner.

Life on the Brink aspires to reignite a robust discussion of population issues among environmentalists, environmental studies scholars, policymakers, and the general public. The book makes the case that population growth is a major force behind many of our most serious ecological problems, including global climate change, habitat loss and species extinctions, air and water pollution, and food and water scarcity. As we surpass seven billion world inhabitants, contributors argue that ending population growth worldwide and in the United States is a moral imperative that deserves renewed commitment.

Hailing from a range of disciplines and offering varied perspectives, these essays hold in common a commitment to sharing resources with other species and a willingness to consider what will be necessary to do so. In defense of nature and of a vibrant human future, contributors confront hard issues regarding contraception, abortion, immigration, and limits to growth that many environmentalists have become too timid or politically correct to address in recent years.

Ending population growth will not happen easily. Creating genuinely sustainable societies requires major change to economic systems and ethical values coupled with clear thinking and hard work. Life on the Brink is an invitation to join the discussion about the great work of building a better future.

One of the reviews: "For decades, overpopulation deniers have claimed that those who advocate population stabilization or reduction do so to retain privileges; are motivated by racist, sexist, or colonialist views; or do not understand economics. Life on the Brink courageously argues that intelligent and compassionate action in our world demands that we reduce our numbers as quickly and humanely as possible. Its urgent message should be widely read and acted upon."-Bron Taylor, author of Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future doclink

U.S.: Book Review: "Margaret Sanger: a Life of Passion"

August 03, 2012, Population Connection

Jean H. Baker's biography "Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion" rejects the narrow-mindedness that has characterized many previous Sanger biographies and instead focuses on Margaret Sanger's life as a whole - her flaws and missteps yes, but also her determination, intelligence, and steadfast commitment to improving the lives of millions of women and their families.

Sanger's view on reproductive rights and fight for universal access to birth control (as well as her controversial teachings on safe sex, child bearing and maternal health) made her a frequent target of those on the religious right. But words like "eugenicist" and "egotistical" have been allowed to mar her story and deter from her accomplishments.

Margaret Sanger was the 6th daugher of poor parents in Corning, N.Y., who watched her mother endure five more pregnancies before succumbing to tuberculosis at a young age. She trained as a nurse in what became New York's Lower East Side, helping young women deliver child after child, many of whom could not afford to feed their growing families and begged for the "secret" of pregnancy prevention.

Sanger, in a campaign to fight the injustice of inavailability of pregnancy prevention, wrote books, gave speeches, opened the first women's health clinics in the U.S., and ultimately spawned a birth control movement that would expand around the world.

She was bold and ruthless, difficult to befriend and often turned away potential collaboration. She ignored the contributions of her co-workers, and left her children for long stretches of time, preferring a life of travel and activism to the comforts and responsibilities of home. But she was effective.

Born into a world where sex and pregnancy were rarely discussed (much less sex for pleasure and pregnancy by choice) Sanger lived to see the historic creation of the birth control pill and the declaration of birth control as a constitutional right.

Margaret Sanger, then, was not the perfectly packaged hero we read about in historical textbooks, nor the demon described by the right. In "Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion," we have the unique opportunity to see the activist as she really was: bold, ruthless, compassionate, flawed. And that, I think, is pretty cool. doclink

The Habitable Planet: Human Population Dynamics Online Textbook

January 03, 2012, The Habitable Planet

What factors influence human population growth trends most strongly, and how does population growth or decline impact the environment? Does urbanization threaten our quality of life or offer a pathway to better living conditions? What are the social implications of an aging world population? Discover how demographers approach these questions through the study of human population dynamics. doclink

New Book: Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife

June 30, 2011, Rewilding Institute

Dave Foreman of The Rewilding Institute has written a new book about human overpopulation and its effects on wildlife and wild lands. Foreman is well-known for his "Around the Campfire with Uncle Dave" series.

"The population bomb did not fizzle. .. It blew up. ... It is still blowing up."

"Man Swarm is the main driver behind the biodiversity crisis—the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs became extinct, the scalping of hundreds of millions of acres of forest and other key wildlife habitat, and the atmospheric pollution by greenhouse gases leading to 'Global Weirding.'"

You can download a brochure with a synopsis of the book and an order form by going to doclink

Karen Gaia says: A review of the book would be welcomed.

Reducing Adolescent Sexual Risk - Book

June 2011, ETR Associates

* Helps health professionals design, adapt and select curriculum-based programs to effectively address critical factors that affect teens' sexual decision making

* Ideal for program planners, policy makers, district administrators and youth-serving organizations

Free download doclink

The Triple Crises of Civilization

May 16, 2010

Rev. David Murphy and George Plumb urge you, in order to face the triple crises of Global Warming, Peak Oil, and exceeding our Carrying Capacity while adding eighty million annually to our population, to read at least one book from each of the following categories:

  • Peak Oil
    • The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, James Howard Kunstler, Atlantic Monthly Press, 20051
    • Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines, Richard Heinberg, New Society Publishers, 20071
    • Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post-Peak Oil World, Michael Rupert, Chelsea Green Press, 20092
    • Transition Handbook, Rob Hopkins, Chelsea Green Press, 2009
  • Climate Change
    • Storms of my Grandchildren, James Hansen, Bloombury USA, 20091
    • Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, Al Gore, Rodale Press, 20091
    • Earth, Bill McKibben, Times Books, 20101
    • Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Lester Brown, W.W. Norton Co., 20091
  • Population Size and Growth
    • A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice and the Environmental Challenge, Laurie Mazur, Island Press, 20101 Growing Pains: A Planet in Distress, Valorie M. Allen, IUniverse Press, 20101
    • The Population: Fix-Breaking America's Addiction to Population Growth, Edward Hartman, out of print but available through used sources at, 20061
    • More: Population, Nature and What Women Want, Robert Engelman, Island Press, 20081
  • Combined Crisis
    • The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisi to Sustainability, Gus Speth, Yale University Press, 20081
    • Threshold: The Crisis of Western Civilization, Thom Hartmann, Viking Press, 20091
    • Endgame-the problem of civilization, Derrick Jensen, Seven Stories Press, 20061
    • The Vanishing Face of Gaia: The Final Warning: Enjoy it while you can, James Lovelock, Allen Lane, 20091
  • Religious Point of View
    • A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency, John Stanley, David R. Lay, and Gyurme Dorje, Wisdom Press, 2008
    • Love God, Heal Earth: The Ecological Crisis through the Lens of Faith, Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham (founder of Interfaith Power and Light), SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2009
    • Claiming Earth as Common Ground, Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener, St. Lynn's Press, 2009
    • A Climate Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, Katherine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley, Hachette Book Group, 2009
If you only have time or motivation to read only a couple of books, then James Hansen's book, The Storms of my Grandchildren, and Michael Rupert's Confronting Collapse are must reads. doclink

A Defuser's Guide to the Population Explosion - Book Review by Paul and Anne Ehrlich

March 18, 2010, New Scientist

Peoplequake: Mass migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population Crash This is a well-written book by Fred Pearce and will increase the recognition of the important role of demography in human affairs.

Peoplequake covers the gamut from Thomas Malthus's fundamental assumption to fears that the greying of Europe will precipitate the end of western civilisation.

The book discusses the impact of the green revolution, massive migration, the Chinese one-child family programme, declining birth rates in the developing world, the rise of death rates in Russia, and more.

We hope the book Peoplequake will convince many decision-makers that they ignore population issues at their peril.

Pearce assumes climate disruption is our most serious climate-related environmental problem, but many scientists are also concerned about losses of biodiversity and ecosystem services, toxification of the Earth and resource wars turning nuclear.

He is overoptimistic about when global population shrinkage might begin, whether birth rates among the rich will remain low - consumption control being more important than population control - and feeding additional billions even though more than a billion are hungry today.

He doesn't explain that every billion people added to the population will have a more severe impact on human life-support systems, since newcomers must be fed with food grown on more marginal land and provisioned from increasingly lower-grade and distant resources.

Pearce gives an erroneous description of the "Simon-Ehrlich" bet. But even when treating our mistakes, he tries to do so fairly. We highly recommend his book. doclink

Karen Gaia says: there is that word, 'population-control', again. To many that means harsh means to achieve population sustainability, but reducing family size by strictly voluntary means works so much better.

Conservation Through Having Smaller Families

March 2009, Population Media Center

This wonderful childrens' book, by Nola Stewart, explains - using simple cartoon panels - global economy, ecology, population, and family planning. Very useful for tabling. Adults can benefit from this publication as well. doclink

Book Review: the Final Energy Crisis

April 2005, The Finally Energy Crisis

The new peak oil book, The Final Energy Crisis,, features 23 views on oil peak theory, the liklihood that it is true, and the importance of oil-decline for civilisation. Geologist Colin Campbell writes that food production must go local because, without cheap oil, long distance food transport will become an impossibility. Another article by Campbell is on Caspian oil reserves and explores why most of the oil companies have turned away from Caspian oil. Danish astrophysicist Jacob Fisker defines the three laws of thermodynamics for the lay-man. Andrew McKillop's essays ask: What would happen if the Chinese become car- dependent? Why, if Africa has so many mineral and oil riches, are Africans so poor? High oil prices are supposed to be bad for business, but McKillop writes that they benefit third world economies and break first world stagnation cycles as long as oil remains abundant. McKillop anticipates hard times ahead particulary for young adults in 2035. Mark Jones, an English born communist, canvasses possible outcomes of competition between the US and China in the short-term; both countries are doomed in the medium term because oil supply will sustain neither. Organisers for the French anti-nuclear movement make a convincing argument that the production of nuclear energy carries unsustainable hidden fossil fuel subsidies. Energy scientist Ross McCluney, is in favour of alternative energy and renewables, and reviews their potential to replace fossil fuels. The news is that the world's population cannot be sustained by alternatives. Coal will replace them, bringing complications for the atmosphere and how long will those reserves of coal last? Gregson Vaux, a physicist and environmental engineer, calculated world coal peaks taking into account how much faster we will use up coal as a substitute for petroleum. Sheila Newman contrasts the potential of France and Australia after oil, after uranium, and after coal have run down, taking us 130 years into the future to a smaller, leaner, Australia. Ted Trainer writes about how humans might organise as energy depletion sets in and points out that material losses can be compensated so that a 'simpler way' need not mean social impoverishment. doclink

Jared Diamond's Collapse: a Bestseller for Population Activists

January 2005, Margaret Liles

There's a current bestseller that reinforces the message of Population Connection, Jared Diamond's Collapse. Besides being a terrific read, Dr. Diamond's book informs! He carefully documents the historical failures and successes of societies. He compares and contrasts these failures and successes to current social dilemmas in a very scientific, non-judgmental manner. Those of us who favor the stabilization, if not reduction, of world population will be sure to note that every successful island society that Dr. Diamond describes practiced some sort of population control, and that those controls were not very pleasant. How much easier it should be, with modern birth control methods, to stabilize the population on our island in space. doclink

The Crash of Civilizations

January 09, 2005, Atlantic Monthly

Deforestation stripped Easter Island where building statues took priority. In his panoramic book Collapse, Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel moves to yet another phenomenon: failed nations, of distant and the recent past. Consider the 1994 slaughter in Rwanda, where the Hutu militias' mass murder of Tutsi civilians was the consequence of evil men manipulating ethnic hatreds, while the U.N. and the U.S stood by and did nothing. In the most all-encompassing summary of why genocide occurred, Diamond observes Rwanda had a population density approaching that of Holland, supported by Stone Age agriculture: Rwanda then suffered a decline in per capita food production because of drought and overworked soil, which caused massive deforestation. This increased rising levels of theft and violence by landless and hungry young men. The decision to kill was made by politicians, for political reasons, but part of the reason why it was carried by the ordinary peasants was feeling that there were too many people on too little land. Diamond says that, in this case, Malthus was right: "population and environmental problems created by non-sustainable resource use will ultimately get solved, if not by pleasant means then by unpleasant" ones. While media reports correctly describe a decline in the rate of world population growth, the crucial short-term truth is that there will be a continued rise in the population of poor young males for a few years in some of the most political unstable countries. Or take the December 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of South Asia. Because humans are living in environmentally fragile zones where they have never before been in such concentrated numbers, the normal occurrence of natural events in the environment is poised to wreak havoc in the new century. Nature and demography will be driving history. In an exploration of why some medieval societies including the Anasazis in the American southwest all became extinct, of why the Inuit in the Arctic and managed to survive, and of why places like Montana's Bitterroot Valley and the Dominican Republic have had happier destinies than Rwanda and Haiti, Diamond brings balance to a debate that tended to avoid explanations of human behavior rooted in environmental, ethnic, cultural or demographic causes. The most incisive portion of Collapse deals with the Dominican Republic and Haiti, two countries sharing the island of Hispaniola, the former a developing society and the latter a complete failure. The Haitian portion is largely denuded of tree cover, while the Dominican side is lush and green. As Diamond explains, the rains come to Hispaniola from the east and the Dominican side supports higher rates of plant growth. Moreover, the eastern side has the highest mountains, whose rivers flow east and the Dominican side gets more water from the run-off, leading to thicker, more nutrient-rich soils. Haiti's mountains cover more of its land mass, reducing the area for agriculture. Since Haiti was a colony of France, large numbers of slaves were imported, increasing the population while overworking the farmland. Spain, by contrast, treated the Dominican side with neglect: a demographic blessing in disguise. China's goal of achieving a first-world lifestyle for its 1.3 billion people will double the world's human resource use, but it is doubtful whether even the world's current human resource use can be sustained. Something has to give way. China's geographical unity lacks major islands, and unlike Italy it lacks large peninsulas that has given it a political and linguistic homogeneity that Europe never had. China's leaders have had the organizational capacity to create gargantuan tragedies such as the Great Leap Forward, when 20 million people were killed, or to take positive steps as when they instituted a ban on logging. Diamond defends the false alarms about resource scarcity in the 1970s and '80s suggesting that Ehrlich's (and Malthus's) point about surging populations and diminishing resources is true: While these trends do not necessarily lead to cataclysm, they have been a factor encouraging warfare and civil unrest across the underdeveloped world. True irresponsibility lies in optimism based on ideology, rather facts. On Easter Island, the felling of trees for high-altitude gardens, the cremation of bodies, the building of canoes and scaffolding for statues led to massive deforestation and decreased crop yields. The Greenland Norse were a communal and hierarchical society, whose strict adherence to European Christianity may have accounted for their conservatism and failure to learn from the Inuits, who burned whale and sea blubber for fuel and used sealskins in their kayaks in order to conserve wood. But Norse Greenland survived for 450 years, twice the lifetime of the United States, in one of the most remote and inhospitable regions of the globe. The parallels between an interconnected Earth, in which each continent affects the other, and the dozen clans of Easter Island are, "chillingly obvious." Like them, we would have no place to flee if something wrong: not suddenly wrong but gradually wrong, so that the danger remains deniable until it's too late. doclink

Book List

Too Much Protein: Are We Eating Too Much Meat? (infographic)

August 13 , 2013, Huffington Post

The grocery delivery program Door To Door Organics, report that Americans eat at least 12 ounces of meat per day, almost 50% more than the recommend daily amount. One 2011 study found eating less meat could double the world's food supply. A March study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine through Harvard University found eating too much red meat can shorten one's lifespan. Also eating too much meat can lead to kidney stones, dehydration and calcium loss. Dieticians of Canada recommend 75 g or 2 1/2 ounces of meat every day, along with a meat alternative to make up the recommended daily intake of five ounces of protein.

Do You Eat Too Much Protein?

Learn about infographics software.


Women + Climate Disruption (Infographic)

November 2013, Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program

Click on the link in the headline to see this image doclink


The Shape We're In - Science Magazine Series

November 22, 2003, Science magazine

In Nov 2003 Science magazine is detailed a series of articles that will be published in the coming months - a group of short Viewpoints about some of the common resources--air, fresh water, fisheries, food and soil, energy--and key trends--in human population, biodiversity, and climate--that are most important for our general well-being. Topics will be: "Prospects for Biodiversity," "Tropical Soils and Food Security," "The Future for Fisheries," "Global Freshwater Resources: Soft-Path Solutions for the 21st Century," "Energy Resources and Global Development," and "Global Air Quality and Pollution." On December 12 Science will present a special issue on the "Tragedy of the Commons," the classic metaphor of the late Garret Hardin which appeared 35 years ago, in which some contemporary ideas about the management of shared resources will be discussed. doclink

Educational Materials - News

Beyond Malthus: Sixteen Dimensions of the Population Problem

September 1998, World Watch Institute

Worldwatch Paper 143 by Lester R. Brown, Gary Gardner, Brian Halweil. The
unprecedented surge in population,
combined with rising individual consumption, is pushing our claims on
the planet beyond its natural limits. doclink

No Room for Nature

January 2001, William C. Gladish, 2001 All Rights Reserved

No Room for Nature

by William C. Gladish, 2001 All Rights Reserved Where did the forest go daddy?
Where did the warblers go mommy?
We don't know honey
Six billion and growing---no room for nature
More homes, cars, planes, and ships
Carnage along the road, in the air, and on the sea
More toxins and congestion to endure
Why must this be---can we not see
More CO2 and the days are getting warmer
Ice caps melting---coral reefs dying
Politicians turn away and count their contributions
Where did the forest go daddy?
Where did the warblers go mommy?
We don't know honey
Six billion and growing---no room for nature
The garden is God's enduring inspiration and teacher
"Fill the Earth and subdue it"---accomplished three times over
"Take care of it"---killing thousands of species a year
Our life-support system
People say, my children are smarter and must be born
Yet, the smart people have caused the most harm
Breeding wars erupt---adoption and other nurturing alternatives ignored
Where did the forest go daddy?
Where did the warblers go mommy?
We don't know honey
Six billion and growing---no room for nature
More technology, economic expansion, and war to save us
Living on a finite planet
Ignorance, arrogance, and apathy
Why must this be---can we not see
Where did the animals go papa?
Where did the butterflies go mama?
We don't know honey
Six billion and growing---no room for nature
Six billion and growing---no room for nature

Super World Population Clock

December 08, 2013, poodwaddle

Click on the link in the headline to see this super set of clocks showing population globally as well as by region and also many other statistic odometers. doclink

The Economics of Birth Control

November 14, 2013, Population Action International

Spending $1 and getting $4 back sounds like a good deal, doesn't it? Well for every $1 we invest in family planning, we save $4 in other areas like education, public health, and water and sanitation.

It's time to cash in on this deal, and invest in family planning worldwide. When women are able to plan their pregnancies, they live longer, they have smaller families, and they're better able to participate in the workforce. In fact, women who have access to contraception typically make 40% more than those without access — and that economic success is good for the whole country.


Investing in Women and Girls: Carrying the Weight of a Global Crisis

March 23, 2012, Media Planet

Empowering women and girls around the world to take part in global decision-making is the first step toward reaching a new standard of human and global development. http to see a beautiful, colorful supplement published in USA Today. doclink

Are You in the Know About Contraception, Pregnancy, Abortion and Teens?

January 31, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

The Guttmacher Institute has launched "Are you IN THE KNOW?", a new set of resources designed to inform a broad range of audiences to increase public awareness about sexual and reproductive health issues in a simple, compelling and fun format.

Are you IN THE KNOW? comprises a Web site, a mobile-friendly quiz, a vibrant set of flash cards and a booklet that lay out the top questions and answers on contraception, pregnancy, abortion and teens. Visit the Web site - - to browse the set of 110 questions and answers that provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate research available.

With your smart phone, check out the Are you IN THE KNOW? mobile-friendly Web site - - the first of its kind for the Institute: By visiting the mobile site, you can take a fun quiz or browse the top 40 questions and answers by subject and access references for each answer, all from wherever you may be.

In addition to these helpful online resources, we have also created a new set of flash cards containing the 20 most frequently asked questions and answers - The flashcards utilize infographics and visual aids to better elucidate and enhance the science-based answers behind them. doclink

Vallentyne was Right: Part 2 - History of the Population Movement

January 2, 2012, Inter-Research Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics (ESEP)

by William N. Ryerson, Population Institute and Population Media Center

The failure of political leaders to address population and consumption issues over the last half century has generally not been the result of lack of access to information about the problem. Indeed, there have been a series of high-level warnings to global leaders that many have heard but have chosen to ignore, hoping to duck the controversy or extend the profits of population growth realized by a few business leaders who were contributors to their political campaigns. Here is a sampling of the warnings given to American leaders and to the world.

(1) The work of Paul and Anne Ehrlich, including The Population Bomb

In 1968, the Sierra Club and Ballantine Books published The Population Bomb, which was a joint effort of Stanford biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich (Ehrlich 1968). It became an instant bestseller. Combined with speeches given by Paul Ehrlich all over the USA and extensive media interviews (including more than 20 interviews on the Tonight Show with Johnny Car- son), the ‘Bomb' was responsible for launching the modern population movement and for making population a central focus of the first Earth Day in 1970.

Ehrlich, Yale biologist Charles Remington, and Connecticut attorney Dick Bowers founded Zero Population Growth (ZPG) following a talk Ehrlich gave at Yale in 1968. The organization (now called Population Connection) grew at its height to 60000 members and 600 chapters. In the mid-1980s the national board of ZPG decided it did not want to advocate for lower immigration levels and so gave up advocacy for US population stabilization. The board of the California chapter dissented, however, and split off to form Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), for which Stuart Hurlbert has served as board secretary since 2001.

The Ehrlichs' book was attacked when it was published and has regularly been ridiculed since that time. However, the warnings it contained were all couched in hedged terms common to scientific authors, indicating that the possible outcomes of overpopulation were not so much firm predictions as they were likely to occur if population growth remained at 1968 levels. The alarm raised helped to move the US government and other donor countries to invest large sums in making family planning services available around the world, which led to reductions in fertility rates and slowed the growth of world population. At the same time, the Green Revolution of the 1970s led to dramatic increases in grain production in countries like India and China, averting the immediate threat of massive starvation. However, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug stated clearly that the Green Revolution he led would only buy the world community 30 yr in which to stop the ‘population monster' or the developing world would face even greater famines than the one he had helped to avert.

In retrospect, the Ehrlichs believe The Population Bomb was too optimistic (Ehrlich & Ehrlich 2009, Turner 2009). For while the Green Revolution averted a global catastrophe at the time, about 300 million people have died of malnutrition since then. The Green Revolution crops, depending as they do on petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers and large quantities of fresh water, face an uncertain future as all 3 of these resources become less available.

(2) Publication of The Limits to Growth

Many corporate leaders and politicians scoffed when The Limits to Growth was published (Meadows et al. 1972). A careful analysis of the trends in utilization of resources, the Club of Rome-sponsored publication gave clear evidence that humanity was on a collision course with resource exhaustion. In 2009, Dennis Meadows, one of the co-authors of the report, said that human civilization is following the projections the authors forecast in 1972 (also see Turner 2008). However, except for the scientific community, the report generated no discernable action by world leaders.

(3) President's Commission on Population Growth and the American Future In July 1969, President Nixon proposed the creation of a Commission on Population Growth and the American Future (CPGAF). At the time, he stated, ‘One of the most serious challenges to human destiny in the last third of this century will be the growth of the population. Whether man's response to that challenge will be a cause for pride or for despair in the year 2000 will depend very much on what we do today' (CPGAF 1972, p. 3)

In 1972, the Commission released its final report urging the country to move quickly toward population stabilization (CPGAF 1972). Headed by John D. Rockefeller III, the ‘Rockefeller Commission' strongly urged that America give up its addiction to growth. While many Americans heeded the message and the fertility rate fell to replacement level within a year of the report's presentation, policy makers did not pay much attention. The President had other things on his mind, and 2 yr later, he resigned from office because of the Watergate scandal. Since that time, the US population has grown by over 100 million people, in significant part because of immigration.

The CPGAF recommended, among other things, that America act to end illegal immigration and to set legal immigration at 400000 people per year. The CPGAF determined that ‘the health of our country does not depend on [population growth], nor does the vitality of business, nor the welfare of the average person.' (J. D. Rockefeller, letter to President Nixon, available at 001_population_growth_and_the_american_future. htm) Since the report was issued, annual legal immigration has quadrupled, and illegal immigration has mushroomed.

In the opening paragraph of its first chapter, the CPGAF (1972) report said, In the brief history of this nation, we have always assumed that progress and ‘the good life' are connected with population growth. In fact, population growth has frequently been regarded as a measure of our progress. If that were ever the case, it is not now. There is hardly any social problem confronting this nation whose solution would be easier if our population were larger. Even now, the dreams of too many Americans are not being realized; others are being fulfilled at too high a cost. Accordingly, this Commission has concluded that our country can no longer afford the uncritical acceptance of the popul tion growth ethic that ‘more is better.' And beyond that, after two years of concentrated effort, we have concluded that no substantial benefits would result from continued growth of the nation's population.

Perhaps the CPAFG most widely cited recommendation read, ‘Recognizing that our population cannot grow indefinitely, and appreciating the advantages of moving now toward the stabilization of population, the Commission recommends that the nation welcome and plan for a stabilized population.' The CPAFG report goes on to state, ‘In short, we find no convincing economic argument for continued national population growth.'

(4) The ‘Warning to Humanity' If we don't halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity — and we will leave a ravaged world. ...Henry Kendall

In 1992, 1700 of the world's scientists, including the majority of Nobel Laureates in the sciences, signed a ‘Warning to Humanity' written by the late Henry Kendall, chair of the Union of Concerned Scientists (Kendall 1992). For the full text, see www.ucsusa. org/about/1992-world-scientists.html.

The ‘Warning to Humanity' stated clearly the need to stabilize population numbers and change the course of human civilization. The ‘Warning' identifies a range of critical stresses on the environment, including the atmosphere, water resources, oceans, soil, forests, living species, and population. Following are the highlights of the statement on population and the conclusion:


The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth's limits. Current economic practices which damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair.

Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can over- whelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth.

No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.


We the undersigned, senior members of the world's scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.

(5) Statement by the National Academies of Sciences of 58 nations

In 1994 the scientific academies of 58 nations came together to warn that humankind must stop looking to science alone to solve problems caused by over population (Science Summit on World Population 1994). The full statement can be found at http:// Highlights of the academies' statement follow: Population growth, resource consumption, and the environment As human numbers further increase, the potential for irreversible changes of far reaching magnitude also increases. Indicators of severe environmental stress include the growing loss of biodiversity, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing deforestation worldwide, stratospheric ozone depletion, acid rain, loss of topsoil, and shortages of water, food, and fuel-wood in many parts of the world.

The earth is finite

The growth of population over the last half century was for a time matched by similar world-wide increases in utilizable resources. However, in the last decade food production from both land and sea has declined relative to population growth. The area of agricultural land has shrunk, both through soil erosion and reduced possibilities of irrigation. The availability of water is already a constraint in some countries. These are warnings that the earth is finite, and that natural systems are being pushed ever closer to their limits.

But time is short and appropriate policy decisions are urgently needed. In our judgment, humanity's ability to deal successfully with its social, economic, and environmental problems will require the achievement of zero population growth within the lifetime of our children.

Reducing fertility rates, however, cannot be achieved merely by providing more contraceptives. The demand for these services has to be addressed. Even when family planning and other reproductive health services are widely available, the social and economic status of women affects individual decisions to use them. The ability of women to make decisions about family size is greatly affected by gender roles within society and in sexual relationships. Ensuring equal opportunity for women in all aspects of society is crucial.

Action is needed now

Humanity is approaching a crisis point with respect to the interlocking issues of population, environment, and development. Scientists today have the opportunity and responsibility to mount a concerted effort to confront our human predicament. But science and technology can only provide tools and blueprints for action and social change. It is the governments and international decision-makers ... who hold the key to our future. We urge them to take incisive action now and to adopt an integrated policy on population and sustainable development on a global scale. With each year's delay the problems become more acute. Let 1994 be remembered as the year when the people of the world decided to act together for the benefit of future generations.

(6) The President's Council on Sustainable Development

In 1993, President Clinton established the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) to advise him on sustainable development and create ‘bold, new approaches to achieve our economic, environmental, and equity goals'. The Council served from 1993 to 1999. Among the recommendations of the PCSD was a move toward the stabiliza- tion of the US population (PCSD 1999).

In the 1990s, the USA was the only major industrialized country experiencing significant population growth. The PCSD (1999, Ch. 1, p. 3) report stated:

Annual growth figures of ... 1.0 percent may seem small, but they are not. Persistent 1.0 percent growth translates into a doubling time — the time it takes a population to double in size — of 70 years. This is an enormous increase when the population that is doubling is the United States, the third largest country in the world. Also, given the numeric size of the country, even apparently small percentage increases produce large increases in numbers.

The PCSD's recommendations about immigration policy included the development of comprehensive and responsible immigration and foreign policies that reduce illegal immigration and mitigate the factors that encourage immigration. The report stated (PCSD 1999 Ch. 1, p. 4):

Continued population growth in the United States, particularly on the scale envisioned by the medium and high projections, has enormous implications. Coupled with the technologies and resource consumption patterns that underlie the U.S. standard of living, population growth in America produces an environmental impact unparalleled by any other country at this time.

Continued population growth also has the potential to overwhelm efficiency and productivity gains, negating technology-based efforts to reduce U.S. environmental impact. Population growth also challenges industry's best efforts to provide new, higher quality jobs for all Americans and to improve real wages for American workers — which have been stagnant for 22 years. It similarly adds to the nation's needs to reduce poverty, improve education, and provide health care for all Americans. In short, the United States is already severely challenged by the need to provide better opportunities for millions of disadvantaged citizens, and continued population growth will exacerbate those challenges.

The PCSD's final report to the President in May 1999 added a paragraph on the desires of the American public with regard to population (PCSD 1999, Ch. 1, p. 5):

For decades, Americans have not had a desire for an ever-larger population. This is suggested by polls over the years. In 1974, 87 percent of respondents to a Roper poll said they did not wish the country had more people. A 1971 poll by the US Commission on Population Growth and the American Future found that 22 percent felt US population should be smaller than it was then, which was close to 200 million. As long ago as 1947, when U.S. population was 140 million, Gallup found that 55 percent of Americans believed the country would be ‘worse off' with more people.

The PCSD (1999, Ch 1, p. 20) report concluded with a series of recommendations, the first of which read, Stabilize U.S. population as early as possible in the next century as part of similar worldwide efforts, by providing universal access to a broad range of information, services, and opportunities so that individuals may plan responsibly and voluntarily the number and spacing of their children. These include: high-quality family planning and other basic and reproductive health services; equitable educational, economic, social, and political opportunities, particularly for women; reduction of infant mortality; and the increase of male responsibility for family planning and childrearing. This goal also entails targeted actions to eradicate poverty. While fertility is the largest contributor to U.S. population growth, responsible immigration policies that respect American traditions of fairness, freedom, and asylum will also contribute to voluntary population stabilization in the United States.

Of course, looking forward to 2050, immigration and births to immigrants are expected to exceed natural increase by 4-fold as a driver of US population growth, as projected by the Pew Hispanic Center (Passel & Cohn 2008). doclink

Vallentyne was Right: Achieving Sustainability Requires Accounting for All Relevant Factors

January 2, 2012

by William N. Ryerson, Population Institute and Population Media Center

(Editor's note: I have broken this article into three parts. Parts 2 (History of the Population Movement) and 3 (Things are Getting Worse) will be done at a later time.

Population has waxed and waned as an issue of public consciousness and action by policymakers. The issue is on the ascendancy again in part because of climate change and food crises caused by escalating food prices, the energy crisis and growing shortages of fresh water. In the face of these problems, attempts of some governments to stimulate higher birth rates, over concern with aging populations, are misplaced and counterproductive. Vallentyne's long-neglected 'demotechnic index' holds new promise for considering both population numbers and consumption rates when evaluating the impact of humans on the environment. Its appearance in publication now is all the more important because of the failure of political leaders to act on the numerous expert warnings issued over several decades regarding the impact of human population growth and expanding utilization of resources. Thus, the world community needs to act urgently to utilize the demotechnic index of Jack Vallentyne to look holistically at ways to achieve a sustainable society.

(Editor's note: The demotechnic index is simply the ratio of technological energy consumption to the energy required for physiological subsistence alone, which is estimated to be 3.57 gigajoules per capita year. Canadians and Americans have huge demothechnic indices, 118 and 91 respectively, meaninng that each North American uses about one hundred times more energy than required for subsistence alone.)

Jack Vallentyne originally presented his demotechnic index at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. It is an important contribution to the cause of achieving global sustainability.

Indeed, achieving global sustainability has been a central concern of many ecologists and other scientists during the last 50 years. The pillars of sustainability — population, consumption, waste patterns, and technology — have waxed and waned in the public consciousness. In the 1970s, population was often seen as the central issue, but Jack Vallentyne also called on scientists to recognize the importance of consumption. His work today calls on the global community not to forget the population factor and to take a balanced approach in looking at all relevant factors that will ultimately determine whether human civilization is sustainable over many more millennia or is a short-term experiment gone awry.

Indeed, the number of people on the planet would not matter if we were ethereal beings. Our economic activity, i.e. our consumption of resources and our production of wastes, makes our numbers matter.

In the 1970s, population was a visible issue. The concern with the number of humans focused on developing countries in part because of the evidence that large family size was a leading cause of poverty and thus that rapid population growth would prevent economic development. Environmental concerns centered on deforestation and loss of the biodiversity found in many developing countries.

Because developed countries had the resources to address pollution problems and since most had undertaken significant pollution abatement efforts starting in the 1960s, there was relatively little concern in the 1970s about population growth in developed countries. In part, this was the case because many developed countries had achieved very low fertility rates. Migration from developing to developed countries was relatively small as a contributor to population growth of the latter and was seen by many as having zero net environmental impact. In addition, since the goal of most societies was, first and foremost, economic growth, migration was often viewed as an unmitigated positive because of the impact it had on the economic status of migrants and, more broadly, on corporate profits.

Along the way, population became taboo. President Reagan declared that population was, at worst, a neutral factor. That position, plus the backlash against legalized abortion in the United States, made concern with population issues politically incorrect. By the time of the second world population conference in Mexico City in 1994, discussion of population had all but disappeared from consideration by those working in the environmental sustainability arena.

More recently, concern about climate change, combined with the prospect of peak oil and fresh water shortages, has led some environmentalists to conclude that the only environmental concern of merit was high (read ‘excessive') consumption and waste by developed countries. Reducing the ecological footprint of individuals in developed countries, but not the number of footprints, became a new mantra that still dominates the materials produced by many environmental organizations. This concern was expressed in ways that steered clear of two important sustainability factors: population growth and economic growth. The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo reinforced the belief that concern with population per se could lead to loss of a rights-based approach to women's reproductive health.

In the last few years, the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE), the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University, and other groups have attempted to draw the public's attention to the fact that resource limitations must lead to a state of non-growth of the global economy, even as developing countries struggle to increase per capita incomes. Selling the idea of global economic stagnation is certainly an uphill battle, but these organizations are trying to force those who lament ‘overconsumption' to look at the drivers of such consumption found within economic systems.

At the same time, the food crises of 2008 and 2011 have helped to spark a resurgence of interest in the population factor. The IPAT (impact = population × affluence × technology) formula (Ehrlich & Holdren 1972) and the ecological footprint concept have continued to point to the fact that population, consumption (or affluence), and technology are all factors in environmental impact and that omitting any one from consideration is a recipe for failing to take the steps necessary to achieve national or global sustainability.

Even so, despite growing evidence of global overshoot, many developed countries have acted as if there were no limits to growth of numbers or economic activity, offering financial incentives to people to have babies and increasing flows of immigration while simultaneously rationing use of water or other resources because of growing shortages, urging employers to stagger working hours because of worsening traffic jams, and taking extraordinary steps to obtain increasingly scarce, risky, and expensive energy resources.

Indeed, many economists try to scare the public in developed countries into thinking that aging populations are a problem. They describe how aging will make a nation's populace less innovative and vibrant. They wring their collective hands over the impact on the working population of having to care for so many retirees. Ultimately, they urge incentives for population growth, both to increase the birth rate and net immigration. These arguments are based on a view of the future that is, in reality, a Ponzi scheme. Endless growth of the population is impossible, and additional young people and working age immigrants will grow older and need support.

In fact, incentive programs like those in Australia, France, and Germany that rely on ever-increasing numbers of people to support the elderly or to maintain economic welfare, if they are successful, will only make the ‘dependency ratio' worse by adding babies (who are 100% dependent) to the burden on the working population. Many of the elderly in most developed countries have savings that make them able to live independently for many years of retirement. More important, raising retirement ages to reflect greater longevity and working capability of the elderly and making adjustments to pension program formulas are a much faster fix for the pension burden than trying to add more children, who likely won't become productive economically for a couple of decades.

In short, we need to plan for non-growing and probably shrinking populations and not try to postpone the day when those goals are achieved. Otherwise, we face serious environmental and social problems. Indeed, if we have a climate crisis, a biodiversity crisis, a water crisis, an energy crisis, and a food crisis, no country should be trying to stimulate higher birth rates.

Vallentyne to the rescue

The demotechnic index of Vallentyne is a useful contribution to the field of sustainability because it helps one to focus on the fact that both numbers of people and their economic activities are important factors in determining whether a society can achieve sustainability. It allows quantification via energy use rather than the less easily quantified concepts of affluence, technology, and consumption. His D-index is a useful improvement on the IPAT formula.

By the 1990 D-index values presented by Mata et al. (2012), we find that the USA is the most planet-damaging country and Canada is close behind India as the sixth and fifth most damaging, respectively, when population numbers are adjusted by energy consumption.

The need to act on Vallentyne's D-index for policy purposes

The scientific evidence is clear. Humanity has a serious and complex problem. It is not just a problem of population, nor of consumption, nor of climate change, nor of peak oil, nor of fresh water scarcity, nor of food insecurity, nor of loss of biodiversity in the oceans and on land. It is all of these. Indeed, mankind's problem is that human activity has out- grown the capacity of the planet to provide the necessary resources in a sustainable way. We are drawing down capital instead of living on the interest generated by renewable resources, and we have built much of modern civilization on the basis of non- renewable resources. We now need to take steps to reduce human demands on the biosphere to sustainable levels. Vallentyne's D-index is a key tool to demonstrate the extent to which each nation must take immediate action to achieve national and global sustainability.

Because of his untimely death, Vallentyne's work is not widely known. Through this series of papers, the authors hope to change that situation.

For the complete paper, see doclink

Quick Reference Guide to Family Planning Research

August 30, 2010, Global Health Council

The Research Utilization team at FHI announces the completion of the 2010 Quick Reference Guide (QRG) to Family Planning Research.

1. Preventing Unintended Pregnancies: A Component for the Prevention of Mother to-Child Transmission of HIV 2. The Impact of Integrating Family Planning into HIV/AIDS Services Intrauterine Devices 3. Emergency Contraceptive Pills 4. Vasectomy 5. Male Condoms 6. Female Condoms 7. Standard Days Method 8. Eligibility Screening and Provider Checklists Community-Based Services and Distribution 9. Youth (Ages 10-24) 10. Implants 11. Contraceptive Continuation 12. Male Circumcision and HIV 13. Contraceptive Counseling and Job Aids 14. Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies 15. Postpartum Family Planning

Click on the headline for the guide. doclink

Where There Is No Doctor

January 24, 2005,

This printable online handbook has been written primarily for those who live far from doctors. It has been written in the belief that: Health care is not only everyone's right, but everyone's responsibility. Ordinary people provided with information can prevent and treat most common health problems in their own homes-earlier,cheaper, and often better than can doctors. Basic health care should not be delivered, but encouraged. doclink

'The Empty Ocean': Invisible Extinctions - Book Review

May 25, 2003, New York Times*

Sent: 14 Jun 2003 'The Empty Ocean': Invisible Extinctions - Book Review May 25, 2003 'The Empty Ocean': Invisible Extinctions By THURSTON CLARKE THE EMPTY OCEAN Plundering the World's Marine Life. Written and illustrated by Richard Ellis. 367 pp. Washington: Island Press/Shearwater Books. $26. he ghosts of vanquished animals still haunt their for... doclink

Fruitful Extinction

November 2002, Ralph Woodgate

This electronic book by Ralph Woodgate explains the unsustainability of the current rate of population growth and how the world, including the U.S. is already unsustainable. The last chapter gives a scenario for the future. Ralph Woodgate is one of WOA!!s top volunteers - writing many of the summarizations in this News Digest. doclink