World Population Awareness

Ideas for Grassroots Efforts/and Activist Actions

December 07, 2014


Endangered Species Condoms Project

June 19, 2014, Center for Biological Diversity

Whether you've received Endangered Species Condoms, signed up for a chance to get them in the future, or just want to know more about how you can engage people in the conversation about human population growth and the wildlife extinction crisis, we've put together downloadable resources and helpful links to help you make the most of your outreach experience (follow the link in the headline). doclink

Do it for the Planet - How Safer Sex Can Save the Earth

April 18, 2012

If we don't have this little "birds and bees" conversation, there won't be too many birds or bees left. The human species has a way of life that destructively encroaches upon the habitats and prosperity of other creatures, and we just keep coming.

"Wrap with care, save a polar bear" and "In the sack, save a leatherback" are just two of the environmentally savvy messages printed on the Center for Biological Diversity's (CBD) latest series of endangered species condoms, set to be distributed on Earth Day.

"We got to a point in our work where we realized there was one link between the (environmental) issues we are seeing today, and that's overpopulation" explains Amy Harwood, human overpopulation organizer at CBD, who says the endangered species condoms are a form of direct action.

"We're hoping that these condoms go out into the community and help start conversations about population growth," Harwood says, "they're great tools for that."

On the condom packaging endangered animals such as Florida panthers, spotted owls and hellbender salamanders are colorfully depicts alongside catchy conservation slogans.

Harwood says the main problem presented by human overpopulation is the amount of resources we consume. The more of us there are, the more we need to survive. The Earth's population has nearly doubled since the inaugural Earth Day in 1970. The group says that overpopulation and overconsumption are the root causes of environmental destruction, and that human overpopulation has led to the extinction of the woodland bison of West Virginia, Arizona's Merriam's elk and the Rocky Mountain grasshopper.

CBD isn't advocating that people cease reproducing; rather, they want folks to have the resources and information needed to make responsible decisions. Harwood says that having a kid is everyone's right, but half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended.

Condoms aren't the only means of safe sex. If you are a man who is not a fan of condoms, and is not stoked on getting a vasectomy you might check out RISUG (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance), a 15-minute procedure (done under very localized anesthesia) involves a doctor injecting your vas deferens with a polymer gel that deactivates sperm on the way out. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I believe RISUG is still in trial stage, seeking FDA approval in the US.

Pledge to Think Small

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Limits to Growth study. If we had paid more attention to this study, numerous crises we face today might have been avoided. Click on the link to read the petition letter and take the pledge. doclink

Just Do It, the Film - a Movie on How to Get Involved and Being Effective


Just Do It lifts the lid on climate activism and the daring troublemakers who have crossed the line to become modern-day outlaws.

Documented over a year, Emily James' film follows these activists as they blockade factories, attack coal power stations and glue themselves to the trading floors of international banks despite the very real threat of arrest. doclink

Karen Gaia says: An example not just for Climate Change activisim; but some of this can work for population, for example

U.S.: Roe Vs Wade is 39 Years Old Today

January 22, 2012, Planned Parenthoood Action Fund

39 years ago the courts recognized the right of women to make personal, private medical decisions, to control their bodies, their reproductive health, and their lives.

Planned Parenthood has set up a website - - to show the world exactly what Roe has meant in the past and still means today. We've got a lot to fight for, and a lot to lose. Please, take a look and share it far and wide. Even better, add your own comment about how Roe v. Wade has made a difference in your life.

Despite the broad, mainstream support for upholding Roe, some politicians are as determined as ever to overturn it and strip women of the rights we've held for nearly 40 years. doclink

Just in Time for New Year's Eve: the Hump Smarter Hotline - 1-800-628-2399

December 30, 2011, Center for Biological Diversity

New Year's Eve is humans' busiest breeding day of the year. So the Center for Biological Diversity just launched the Hump Smarter Hotline, an irreverent, toll-free phone service urging callers to think twice -- once about endangered species and again about human overpopulation -- before taking an unprotected roll in the sheets.

Dial up our hotline -- 1-800-628-2399 -- and then share it (and its message) with your friends, fellow partygoers, family and on Facebook, and then learn more about our overpopulation work. doclink

Population: 7 Billion; It's Time to Talk

October 14, 2011, Global Population Speakout

The world population milestone, happening on October 31st, 2011, that is sparking a global discussion on today's most pressing environmental, health, and justice issues. Be part of the conversation. doclink

7 Billion Actions - a Global Movement for All Humanity

October 14, 2011, 7 Billion Actions website

An opportunity to renew global commitment for a healthy and sustainable world. Established by the United Nations Population Fund to highlight positive action by individuals and organizations and inspire others to join the movement. doclink

7 Billion People, 7 Billion Actions

July 2011, 7 Billion Actions website

7 Billion Actions is a global movement open to every organization and individual committed to addressing the most challenging issues of our time. This bold, collaborative movement will showcase the stories and actions of people throughout communities around the world using an array of online, SMS, and offline activities.

# Step One: Identify a project, activity, or on-line module - something you're already doing - that can be connected with one the seven key issues of the campaign. (go to to be reminded of the key issues)

# Step Two: Contact Maria Larrinaga on the 7 billion actions team . She will send you the branding and logo for the campaign.

# Step Three: Brand your project, activity or on-line module with the 7 billion actions logo and link it to the campaign website. Send Maria a paragraph about your activity as well as your UN branding and logo. She will list your agency as a campaign partner and feature your stories on the campaign site.

Visit the 7 Billion Actions Facebook page at doclink

The Year of 7 Billion Began with Endangered Species Condoms

January 14, 2011, Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity promoted 2011, the Year of 7 Billion, by offering 50,000 more free Endangered Species Condoms to eager volunteers. This brought the total number of free condoms distributed to 350,000 for the year. CBD plans to give away hundreds of thousands more in 2011.

The condoms have created quite a media stir, an important facet of our campaign to educate the public about the unmistakable connection between human overpopulation, overconsumption and the loss of plants and animals around the world.

This February, the Center will again participate in the annual Global Population Speak Out (GPSO), it's a month-long effort to push the issue of unsustainable human population growth. Fueled by academics, activists and concerned citizens all over the world, the GPSO has grown dramatically since its inception two years ago, and this one promises to be, by far, the biggest yet. The list of 2011 GPSO endorsers includes Anne and Paul Ehrlich of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, the president of the European Section of the Society for Conservation Biology, a senior editor and environmental writer for Grist, a member of the Australian parliament, academic leaders from India, Kenya, Mexico, Bangladesh and Argentina, and other luminaries from the United States and around the world.

A National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation show featured a panel that included the author of National Geographic's January cover story on overpopulation and an NPR science correspondent. It was very disappointing. The panelists were dismissive of the perils of overpopulation (and neglected any of the damaging effects to endangered species), while exhibiting an almost religious faith in the powers of technology to save us from ourselves. At one point, in response to an audience question about which three inventions were most important for dealing with overpopulation, two of the panelists' responses were the "discovery of petroleum" and the spread of "agricultural technology," including petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides - the very two of the fundamental causes of human overpopulation. They have been key factors in our race to build the biological house of cards upon which our unsustainable human population now rests. doclink

Join Us on Facebook for World Overpopulation Awareness

January 2011, WOA!! website

WOA is on Facebook. Join us. A great place for activists to get together, discuss issues and strategies, recommend books, promote events, and pat each other on the back.

Even if you are not on Facebook you can still see our Facebook page. Just click on the headline above. doclink

(Endangered Species Condoms)


Links to Population Connection Fact Sheets

September 2009

Go to - Population Connection's homepage. There are three boxes marked, "Protecting the Planet," "Defending Women's Rights" and "Ensuring Social Justice". When you click the "Read more" link at the bottom of each box, you'll see a list of fact sheets. doclink

Leadership Must Face Reality of the Finite Earth

February 25, 2008, BBC

The Earth and natural resources are finite. That means if we keep using these resources at the current rates, we will eventually have none. Perpetual growth is a myth. The belief that technology can overcome scarcity is a superstition. The belief that the growth of the human population is not a problem is an example of denial.

The Earth has a finite carrying capacity. When we exceed that, very bad things begin to happen. There is no cure for starvation, and starvation will start killing people when the price of food is beyond their means. Whenever there have been famines, there has always been food somewhere in the world. It just wasn't available or affordable to the people who were dying.

The past few administrations seemed to think that subsidies to agribusinesses are all that is necessary. But there is the matter of preserving the land and its fertility, of producing food that is uncontaminated by pesticides and herbicides, preserving access to water in the more arid areas. There is religious faith in free-market capitalism. Private ownership by an absentee corporation that intends to extract the maximum amount of profits in the shortest possible time is a bad system. Business expansion financed by savings and retained earnings is good. Loans and highly leveraged financial schemes are not good.

To expect corporate executives to be conservators is to expect the highly unlikely. All the pressure on the corporate executive is to make a profit and to boost the stock's value. The welfare of employees, who have been reduced to "human resources," is not a consideration. Private capitalists are notorious for demanding favors from communities in exchange for promises of jobs that often are broken. They are notorious about shifting their costs onto the public.

Substituting plastic and aluminum containers for reusable glass bottles is a prime example.

Researchers unveiled the first detailed map of human impacts on the world's oceans last week. Humans are leaving only 4% of the world's oceans unaffected by human activities.

There's nowhere really that has escaped. Climate change and over-fishing remain the two biggest threats to restoring the world's oceans. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Some excellent points are made in this article. We can't expect government or corporations to do it without our getting actively involved at a personal level.

Nobel Laureat Wangari Maathai Urges Individual Action to Protect Environment

March 13, 2006, Associated Press

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai said people who recycle and plant trees have a bigger influence on the planet's health than elected leaders. There are many countries that have put their signature on the dotted line of Kyoto" but aren't meeting its goals. We ought to embrace the Kyoto protocol in our own little way, she said. Three decades ago, she began mobilizing Kenyan women to plant trees as a way of conserving the environment, improving the quality of life and empowering women. The project has evolved into a broad-based, grass roots organization called The Green Belt Movement, and has given rise to similar movements across Africa. doclink

The Power of One - a Writer Uses the Ripple Effect to Teach People About Population Growth and the Outdoors

2005, Izaak Walton League of America - A Guide to Population

We begin trading stories of fishing and hunting adventures. The older man mentions he is the father of six children. His son has yet to marry. The father laments, it is getting harder to find places to hunt and fish. The conversation reminds me of the words of Margaret Mead, the American sociologist, who said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world." Perhaps, we could make a difference by talking about population growth whenever the opportunity arose. My fishing partners and I are several hours into our trip and we share a love of the outdoors. I decide staying silent will not cut it and I ask the father why he thinks all the good hunting and fishing places around Boise are gone. "Because the population of Boise and surrounding towns has exploded. It's sure not like it was when I was a kid." I ask, "Do you think having six children might have contributed." I explain, "it's not just people moving in, the kids of long-time residents have pushed the numbers up as well. What, I continue, does he think will happen if our population just keeps growing? He says, "I never thought of it that way. Having a large family was just something we did." Our guide, a father of one, chimes in. “That's why clients can keep only two fish apiece now." Talking with others about the impacts of an ever-increasing population wouldn't be time consuming. We're making ripples on the pond. Some hunters at the trailhead have seen no elk and are heading home in disgust. I take the plunge. "The real problem in finding big game is that as our population increases, the hunting areas closest to roads are getting crowded and forces elk and deer even deeper into our last roadless areas". Though it is often uncomfortable to discuss human population with fellow hunters and anglers, the stakes are too big not to. Instead of tackling population growth head on, people peck at the symptoms. We try to control sprawl, we urge more sustainable forestry practices, we encourage recycling, but when you come down to it, by not controlling our own numbers the human species is exceeding the planet's carrying capacity. Just as disease, malnutrition, and starvation force elk and deer herds to crash when they exceed the carrying capacity of their environment, our own numbers will produce a similar fate if left unchecked. doclink

World Environment Day: Opinion

June 05, 2004, Manila Bulletin

Since June, 1970, the world population has more than doubled. All living creatures, are feeling the change in climactic conditions and are trying to adjust. The Earth is reacting to the weather changes, as seen in the shrinking glaciers and the freak weather phenomenon. Fish are becoming harder to find, their habitats being destroyed. The planet is losing plant and animal species. World Environment Day is observed on June 5 as one of the vehicles through which the UN stimulates attention to the importance of sustaining the environment. This years theme is a call for nations to make a choice: Do we want healthy or polluted seas and oceans. The extent of damage has left many ecosystems such as coral reefs and coastal waters in such a fragile state that the slightest disturbance such as a dry spell, a fire, or a flood, could push them into disaster. By taking appropriate action, we will be able to prevent further destruction. doclink

Citizens Urged to Partake in World Population Day - July 11, 2003

July 07, 2003, Africa News Service

Citizens all over the world will recognize World Population Day. In South Africa, Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya has urged citizens to join various activities to highlight the impact poverty, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies and illiteracy have on youth in the country. The special day is sponsored by the UNFPA. doclink

Earth Institute Courses

May 11, 2003, National Network of Earth Institutes

The National Network of Earth Institutes offers discussion courses on Voluntary Simplicity, Exploring Deep Ecology, Choices for Sustainable Living and Discovering a Sense of Place. These have been offered in over 400 communities in 48 states. Each course has a coursebook of readings compiled from different sources broken into seven or eight sessions. If you are interested contact the Northwest Earth Institute at 503-227- 2807 or by email at doclink

Meeting Tips

Organizing to Win: Getting Organized: Creating a Group From the Ground Up

June 2011

Thanks to Oakvillegreen Conservation Association's Liz Benneian, an award-winning environmental activist, community leader and former journalist, for these excerpts from the group's "Organizing To Win" seminars. These seminars teach groups how to become more effective advocates for their causes.

For example, individuals highly concerned about a) local population growth, or b) international family-planning funding decisions made by their federal representatives could benefit from these pointers. Especially interesting is the section titled "Understanding How Decisions Are Made."

Determine your goals. Develop a mission statement. Don't waste time wordsmything these things to death. This is soul-destroying stuff and will drive people away. Mission statements are not etched in stone and can be changed as your group moves along.

Choose a chair. The chair must be tough and fair and put inter-committee squabbles to an end. The core group must trust each other, support each other and further the group's goals. Anyone who cannot do that must go.

Announce the group, organize an event and invite others to join.

Understanding How Decisions Are Made

People want to believe that people in positions of power are trying to do what's best and are making decisions based on the full and accurate information and on what's best for the community. That is almost never the case. If it was the world would be a very different place.

Decisions are almost always made on the basis of self-interest. They are made because they will get the decision maker the most votes, or more campaign contributions or a more favourable position in the hierarchy.

But too often advocacy groups don't understand that. Despite all the evidence to the contrary they think: "what we are saying is so sensible that if we can just explain our position to the decision makers they will immediately do things differently". This never succeeds. I have seen this play out time and time again in battles over preserving natural spaces, ending the use of cosmetic pesticides and stopping incinerators from being built. Logical arguments fail. What works is wielding power.

Organized citizens have the power of the vote. They can make things an election issue. They can bring a lot of negative publicity to decision makers who are not acting in the public interest. Conversely, they can bring a lot of support and positive publicity to those decision makers who do the right thing.

The key things to remember are:

**Being right is never enough - decisions are made on the basis of self-interests - not merit - no matter what they say to you or what you want to believe.

**Your goal must be to make it in the decision-makers best interest to do what you want them to do. How do you do this? By wielding power.

**Don't waste time by asking yourselves the wrong question. Don't ask why decision-makers make the wrong decisions - ask what you need to do to get them to make the right ones.

Understanding Power

Power is not a dirty word, it's the key to winning battles. The six sources of power are:

a). Money.

b). Authority (which can include holding a certain position, social standing, community standing, credentials etc).

c). Information.

d). Organized people.

e). Moral Conviction.

f). Doing Good Works

Usually politicians have the first three. The path to power for community organizations is to organize a large number of people, gather and disseminate information and using that to challenge the authority of decision-makers. Key is to get decisions made and resources allocated for the good of the community rather than to serve the self interest of decision makers and their friends.

To gain authority with citizens: provide them with good information; listen to them not just talk at them; let them see you in action.

A key way to gain power with decision-makers is to assume it. Act like you have authority. Speak with conviction. Remind people you are speaking on behalf of voters. Refuse to be intimidated. Stick to your convictions. Do your homework. Be consistent in what you say and do and don' back down.

Focus on your primary target: who do you want to reach that has the power to make the decision that determines the fate of your issue. Make a specific demand.

Identify secondary targets: those who have influence on the primary target and use them to influence the primary target.

Never forget these battles are about power - who has it and how they use it. Your job is to get and hold power. Don't be afraid of this. If politicians have all the power it's called a dictatorship. If bureaucracies run everything on behalf of a small elite it's called an oligarchy. If power rests in the hands of the people it's called a democracy.

Going to War

* Campaigns take longer than you think. A key to winning is persistence.

* Remember that you never win by fighting the process alone. You have to fight the process but you also have to fight on the larger, big picture issues that engage the public. What this means in practice is that you have to attend all the Town organized meetings on an issue, send in your comments, make delegations etc. But you also have to organize separate meetings and find other ways to communicate with politicians and the public.

* Every battle is a battle for public opinion. Whenever you are addressing councils/committees remember you are addressing a much larger audience of VOTERS and fellow citizens and you are appealing to them. Getting voters onside in noticeable numbers is what spurs politicians to action.

* Always be clear about what you're opposing. Say what you want to happen. Keep to the bigger picture issues. There may be a million details you could argue about but that won't help you win. Winning is the goal. Stick to the higher order principles: for instance instead of arguing about this word or that in a report talk about the critical importance of having a healthy environment if we want healthy children.

* Attack the issue and appeal to the person. Remember that you are seeking help/redress from the decision-makers. It doesn't do you any good to vilify them. There can be exceptions to this, for instance when the goal is to remove someone from office, but those campaigns must be carefully planned and need to stick to issues and facts and not get personal. So, go hard on the issue - do everything you can to show why it harmful/unhealthy/costly/not the best of the many choices etc. but appeal to decision-makers to make the wise choice. And remember to take the high road no matter how personally you are attacked by your opponents or how rudely they behave. You must always stick to the facts and common sense appeals and stay calm and logical in the face of shouting, insults and attempts to change the subject. Keep bringing the discussion back to the critical issue/facts.

* Keep your membership engaged. Have them conduct a poll, make buttons, distribute lawn signs, take photographs, staff a picket line or information booth.

* Don't ever let anyone call you a special interest group. Unlike the developers who stand to make a profit, you gain nothing personal if you are successful other than whatever benefits may accrue to the community as a whole. You are NOT a special interest group. You are voters and taxpayers from your community who represent a group of voters and taxpayers from your community and never let them forget it. Every time they challenge you in public answer them back as forcefully as possible.

* Campaigns succeed or fail depending on the amount of action you take. That means meeting with decision makers, phoning/emailing them, speaking up at public meetings etc. TV coverage, stories in the paper, advertising, posters, email among group members, etc. are only precursors and facilitators to action; not, action itself.

* Don't spend time whining. The key to winning is spending time strategizing about what tactics might work, picking the best ones, trying them, analyzing whether they were effective or not and then acting again.

* Be proud of yourselves. What you are doing is absolutely essential to the proper functioning of a democratic society. Without active citizens our world would be a much less just and humane place. doclink

Grassroots organization

January 2005

1. Make a list of organizations who have local activism.

2. Organize in local areas.

3. Offer to keep a calendar of various group activities

4. Keep in contact with groups who provide presentation opportunities.

5. Advertise in local papers - local programs. Keep a list of newspapers, store windows, bulletin boards, and other advertising = opportunities.

6. Connect with family planning, environmental organizations and get speakers and/or materials.

7. Keep a list of speakers.

8. Collect materials and have a supply on hand to send to individuals who do table events.

9. Contact high schools and colleges for educational opportunities. Connect with student groups.

10. Make a list of lawmakers and policy makers in the area, along with their contact information. Maintain this list as much as possible.

11. Recruit new activists at every opportunity. Put their contact information in a database and contact them from time-to-time.

12. Engage local activists. Start them up with something easy to do - like tabling or carrying Green Umbrellas. It takes time to develop a full-fledged activist.

13. Refer activists to national organizations.

14. Continue to educate yourself and the public. When you are most knowledgeable, you are best able to face controversy with confidence. Look for the positive in every discussion. doclink

Keeping Volunteers

January 19, 2005, Urban Institute

In an Urban Institute report, the 9 best practices for volunteer retention are: supervision and communication with volunteers, liability coverage for volunteers, screening and matching volunteers to jobs, regular collection of information on volunteer involvement, written policies and job descriptions for volunteers, recognition activities, annual measurement of volunteer impact, training and professional development for volunteers, and training for paid staff in working with volunteers. Adoption of these practices is not widespread. doclink

Example Presentations

Reaching Out to Environmentalists About Population Growth and Family Planning

March 07, 2012, New Security Beat

Sierra Club's Kim Lovell reported that meeting the unmet need for family planning around the world could provide up to 16 to 29% of the emissions reductions required by 2050 in order to avoid more than two degrees of warming (the target set by nations to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change). Speaking at the Wilson Center in February, she said: "Increasing access to family planning for women around the world is a climate adaptation and climate mitigation solution." She drew on research by Brian O'Neill (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and others.

Nancy Belden of Belden Russonello and Stewart Consulting, sad that, for environmentalists and those concerned with climate change, "sometimes the idea has been that population is toxic, that we can't talk about population growt.," however the results of a recent survey and several focus groups conducted in association with Americans for UNFPA demonstrate that there is great potential for engaging the environmental community in such a discussion.

Belden, Lovell and Kate Sheppard from Mother Jones all spoke on how the population and environment communities can come together in the lead-up to the Rio+20 UN sustainable development conference.

"Climate change is already happening and women and families around the world are suffering from the effects of water scarcity of erratic weather patterns," she said. But "when women have the ability to plan their family size and have more choices about their families and about their reproductive health and rights, that makes it easier to adapt to those climate change effects that are already taking place," Lovell said.

Reproductive rights issues are something that people can really connect with, she said; "most women, most men too…understand why it's an important issue and they've understood it in their own life and they have very strong response to it," said Kate Sheppard.

The environmental community is relatively optimistic about the potential outcomes of family planning programs and of foreign aid in general. When queried, half of the environmentalists strongly supported the idea of U.S. contributions to UN programs that provide voluntary access to contraception in developing countries, said Belden.

All three speakers stressed is the need to integrate consumption into the integrated population message. In her survey work, Belden found that "if you don't talk about consumption in the same breath, start wanting to put it in there because otherwise…this is someone blaming others."

It is imperative - especially from a sustainable development standpoint - that while working towards integrating environment and population we remain focused on a message that includes "using less but still having a high quality of life" here at home, said Sheppard. doclink

Tic-Tac-Toe Population-Environment Game

July 26, 2003, Alan Kuper

We, the Northeast Ohio Group Pop-Env't Com, have a Tic-Tac-Toe Population-Environment Game which we made by modifying a Mattel, "Toss Across" game and used to good effect, Earth Day 2002.

Players are presented on a table with a 30 x 30" platform consisting of 9 rotatable squares, each of which can present 3 facets. At the start the player sees a world map made up of the 9 squares. The player has 6 bean baqs to throw to try to rotate the squares in order to make a tic-tac-toe out of Z's P's & G's.

On any square, the toss may turn up an environmental "Bad" related to overpopulation. In that case, a bell rings and the game-tender loudly declaims a short explanation, e.g.the Bad is a picture of an endangered animal, the explanation is an appropriate statistic.

Winners who uncover a line of Z's or P's or G's or a diagonal Z-P-G get a prize. Unsuccessful competitors get a candy anyway.

The backboard colorfully explains our message.

Game idea and game contributed: Jennifer Vincenty Wonderful Construction: Betty Liska Candyman: Ed Douglas

Alan Kuper, Chair, Population-Environment, Ohio Chapter doclink

Two Women Offer Guidelines for a Healthier Planet

October 22, 2009, El Hispanic News (Portland, Oregon, USA)

In a presentation by the Sierra Club, Quintana Roo resident and activist Karina de la Torre Garcia, and environmental author/editor Laurie Mazur, a mesaage about the ecological threats in the world's future was delivered.

Playa del Carmen, in Quintana Roo, a state in Mexico, was a fishing village that was a tropical paradise for tourists, with its pearl-like beaches and blue water. Hotels, restaurants, and bars began appearing along the beach, and the village grew to a city of more than 100,000.

Mangrove forests were cut down, destabilizing the coastline. The garbage dump grew huge. With garbage burning, the fumes raised the incidence of cancer. Sewage went right into the ocean. Tourists began complaining that the beach was dirty and the ocean water was polluted.

In addition to the growing tourist population, the native Maya were also multiplying.

"In these areas," de la Torre said, "people believe they must have all the children God sends them." The church advises sexual abstinence, but the tourists display sexual behavior that is copied by the local adolescents.

If boys know about condoms, they can go to the pharmacy, but if they buy a package of condoms, everyone in town will know their secret.

De la Torre works with a group active in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, called Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program, nicknamed GOJoven. In addition to providing basic information to young people, it also provides leadership training so they can reach more people.

De la Torre believes this program can "help young people realize they can control their own lives." She has brought a close-up example of the consequences of ecological problems brought to the boiling point by expanding population and its demands on limited resources.

Laurie Mazur, on the other hand, takes a global perspective. She has just written a new book, " Pivotal Moment, Population, Justice & the Environmental Challenge."

World population was just 1.65 billion in 1900, but by 2000 the count had risen by 4.41 billion to a total of 6.06 billion.

Mid-century population projections range from 8 billion to 11 billion. This is because a large percent of world population today is 25 or younger - the top child-bearing years.

An increased population will double the amount of CO2 and create a grim future for all people.

People living with marginal conditions are more likely to do things like destroy forests in order to maintain their existence, while richer countries with higher consumption are likely to add more than their share of carbon into the atmosphere.

Mazur cited claims that we have only six years to change our carbon footprints or else it will be too late to save the planet.

Slowing population growth is part of the answer.

We know everything we need to know to slow population growth, Mazur said. We need to educate people about the means and making sure all people have the means and the power to make their own decisions about childbearing. Mazur advocates universal access to family planning.

The costs of these programs are very small compared to the size of bonuses given to officers of failed banks or the cost of prosecuting a day of war in Afghanistan. doclink

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

Tabling - Population Growth Chart

Alan Kuper

Create a large population growth curve and have visitors come up and put a dot next to the year they were born. This is ALWAYS a hit and a great icebreaker for starting over-the-table conversations. doclink

US Oregon: Environmental Groups Lobby in Salem

March 24, 2003, Public Broadcasting System

Members of environmental groups lobbyied legislators on issues important to them. About a half-dozen people stood on the capitol steps under green umbrellas to highlight the issue of a rapidly growing population. The Green Umbrella symbolizes a successful family planning program in Bangladesh. The chair of the population committee for the local chapter of the Sierra Club, Ramona Rex, says there's a connection between the number of people on earth and environmental degradation. It's an issue that is very close to people's lives - how many children they want to have and reproductive issues that a lot of people don't really want to talk about. One solution is to give women more control over the number of children they have. Rexx says when that happens, women are more likely to have fewer children spaced further apart. doclink

Local Groups

Grieve Appropriately

March 23, 2011, Richard Grossman MD

This is a difficult time for environmentalists. The carbon dioxide level is rising faster than ever, the human population is still growing, measures of environmental quality are deteriorating, and almost no one seems to care.

Politicians can't be expected help. People whose term in office is just a few years cannot be relied on to make rational decisions about the world our grandchildren will inherit.

Let us look to individuals and nonprofit organizations to assure the planet's future.

Realize that you are not responsible for the whole mess. There is only so much that one person can do.

Find groups of people with similar beliefs and concerns. An informal network of people all over the country share concerns about human population growth. With this network I know whom to call on for the answer to a particular question. Environmental concerns seem less terrifying when they are shared. Communicating about them helps to put worries in perspective. This group of population activists also helps chip the rough corners off some of my ideas.

We should also look at our successes. Yes, environmentalists have many successes to celebrate. In the population field we can be thankful that more and more people are realizing the importance of family planning programs.

Perhaps our biggest victory is voluntary use of modern contraception, which has slowed the growth of our population. In 2008, 188 million unintended pregnancies were avoided in the developing world alone. A consequence of this is that a quarter million maternal deaths were prevented and over a million deaths of newborn babies were averted. The CDC named family planning as one of the most important public health achievements in the 20th century!

It is normal to grieve for the deterioration of the natural world. Recognize your grief, share it with friends (and, if necessary, a professional) and do what you can to improve the world. Above all, get outside to enjoy the magnificent planet we live on. doclink

Grassroots News

Endangered Species Condom Distribution

January 27, 2010, Center for Biological Diversity

Today there are 6.8 billion people in the World, and almost 80 million more are added each year. Animals and plants are severely threatened by large numbers of humans consuming the world's resources.

The Center for Biological Diversity is distributing free endangered species-themed condoms all over the U.S. to raise awareness about overpopulation's serious impacts on our planet. We hope to spark new conversations about the need to bring Homo sapiens back into balance with the rest of life on Earth.

With 1200 volunteers, including college students, grandmothers, teachers, and clergymen condoms will be handed out at universities, music festivals, spiritual singles groups, and even a science and math teachers' conference. doclink

Letter: 34 Million Friends

November 24, 2006, Star Tribune (US)

Author: Jane Roberts. ...

Your Nov. 20 editorial saying that the new Congress was offering hope for renewing funding to the United Nations Population Fund was right on target.

Thirty Four Million Friends ( is continuing to offer Americans the opportunity of taking a stand for the women of the world. It has raised $2.3 million and continue to take in several thousand dollars each week.

Click on the link to make a donation. doclink

U.K.: Jean Medawar: Bold and Industrious Pioneer of Modern Family Planning

May 10, 2005, Guardian (London)

The former chair of the Family Planning Association (FPA) Jean Medawar, who has died aged 92, was a crucial link between the work of the early pioneers of contraception in the 1930s, and modern times. The attitude of the 1920s and 1930s was that family planning was a subject that "no decent man would handle with a pair of tongs". One clergyman wrotethat he would refuse holy communion to anyone he knew who had visited a family planning clinic. Jean worked as an advice and marriage counselor and had a passionate concern for the availability of contraception and its crucial relevance for population stabilisation, environmental conservation and sustainable development worldwide. In 1969 the Margaret Pyke Centre was opened by Prince Philip, who was also present at the Natural History Museum in 1986 for the launch of a major exhibition by Common Ground International, a group that Jean had convened in 1981 - in her words, "a group of leaders who work both for the environment and towards keeping a balance between people and resources". This exhibition travelled to 50 locations in this country, and to the United States and Germany. Jean was commissioned by the UN to tell the story of people and resources in developing countries, resulting in an audio-visual programme piloted successfully in Gambia in 1976. doclink

Post-Feminism, R.I.P.

May 15, 2004, Nation, The

The March for Women's Lives in Washington on April 25 was the biggest pro-choice demonstration in history. Organizers put the number at 1.15 million. The political reverberations could be significant. The antichoice strategy by the Bush Administration has been premised on the expectation that a whittling away of women's reproductive rights will have little consequence. The pro-choice movement's response is to unmask the anti-woman agenda. These are not measures that are popular with voters. After congratulating the throngs Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton noted that if all we do is march, that will not change the leadership of this Administration. Recently the Vatican has been bullying Presidential candidate Kerry, just one salvo from an antichoice establishment heady from a string of legislative successes - Bush flack Karen Hughes suggested on CNN that the marchers, unlike most Americans, had failed to learn to "value the dignity and worth of human life" after 9/11. The importance of the march should not be discounted. Activists and organizers deserve to savor their achievement as they take the fight to the next stage. doclink

Civic Charity

June 14, 2003, Greg Bungo

For this Memorial Day holiday in the U.S., I have a suggestion for a simple little patriotic act that some of us can perform.

There are many ways to communicate our concerns about population and the environment to other people. A week ago, I donated a copy of the new book "Sparing Nature: The Conflict Between Human Population Growth and Earth's Biodiversity", by Jeffrey McKee, to my local public library.

The book is published by Rutgers University Press, which is neither a mainstream trade press nor one of the major academic publishers, such as Oxford, Chicago, Cambridge, or Princeton. So the book may not get the attention that it deserves, and some librarians will not be aware of it.

Check your local library's catalog. If "Sparing Nature" is not in the collection, buy a copy of the book. Then find out what the procedure is for donations at your local public library. You'll want the book to become part of the library's collection -- that is, you don't want them to sell a $28.00 book at their monthly rummage sale for $3.00!

Keep your receipts, and you should be able to claim a tax deduction, too.

Those of you who don't have money budgeted for donations can still read the book. If your library doesn't have it, request it by inter-library loan. doclink

Care Kits Packed for Afghan Midwives; Winning the Peace

March 24, 2003, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

In Afghanistan, infant and maternal mortality rates are the highest in the world. Students and faculty at the Baptist College of Health Sciences would like the numbers reduced. They are organizing 2,000 "safe birth kits" for Afghanistan. The kits, offer implements to foster a more sterile and sanitary child-birthing environment. They are made up of donated supplies and will be shipped to Afghanistan, to the country's birthing assistants. The kits include a soap, sterilization packets, a towel, gauze, latex gloves and string to tie off the umbilical cord. doclink

U.S.: Television's Promotion of Sex and Its Denial of Contraception Ads

February 27, 2003, advertising trade magazine

In one part of the TV industry, frank advertising for contraceptives is unheard of -- the Fox network denied a contraceptive company advertising time during its sexual-adventure show Temptation Island. Fox's ad policy is that disease-prevention claims are acceptable but messages about unwanted pregnancy are not. In 1997, the FDA changed its policy and there has been a flood of ads for such products as Viagra, so why not open up the airwaves to contraceptives? The networks' claim it's a matter of taste and respect for community standards. There are no regulations prohibiting ads on TV for condoms, spermicides, or birth control pills. In recent years, ads have begun appearing for Ortho Tri-Cyclen, a birth control pill, which spent $13 million in advertising compared with the $20 million for Viagra. Ortho Tri-Cyclen has been approved as a treatment for acne, that makes its message more palatable to the networks. Condom ads are focused on disease prevention, not contraception. Nearly two-thirds of television programming had of sexual content last season. Why shouldn't networks let a little reality creep into contraceptive advertising? Sex sells--but so could birth control. doclink

World Population Awareness Week

October 16, 2002, PRNewswire

24 governors and 219 mayors in the U.S., and 248 organizations throughout the world have proclaimed Oct. 20-26 as the 18th annual World Population Awareness Week (WPAW). The theme is "Population and the Next Generation: Youth and Adolescents". Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 make up one sixth of the world's population - the largest ever contingent of this age group. Nearly half of the world's population, and 63% in the least developed countries, is under age 25. World Population Awareness Week was developed by the nonprofit Population Institute which seeks to maintain a more equitable balance between the world's population, environment and resources. Its president, Werner Fornos, said "The choices young people make today regarding their sexual and reproductive lives, including responsible male behavior, will determine whether world population stabilizes at 8 billion or less or at 9 billion or more." Of this age group, 17 million young women give birth every year, representing almost 1/4 of the total births. Early pregnancy and childbearing are associated with serious health risks, as well as less education and lower future income potential for young mothers. The age group also comprises about half of the 5 million people infected with HIV last year. doclink

Cleveland WPAW 2002

October 2002,

Hi Our annual World Population Awareness Week meeting, Oct. 23, was a huge success, a full house thanks to the drawing power of the speaker, Werner Fornos, President, The Population Institute in Washington.

The theme was, "Overpopulation - A Threat to the Environment & to Our Security".

One handout, "Radicalism - Is the Devil in the Demographics?" (NYT, Elaine Sciolino,12/9/01), discussed likely spawning of terrorists in poor countries experiencing rapid population growth with some half the population under age 25.

Another handout was about Bush withholding $34 million from the UNFPA and told the story of the $1 from 34 million Americans e-mail campaign, started independently by Lois Abraham in NM and Jane Roberts in CA. We passed the hat and collected over $50 to be sent to The U.S. Committee for UNFPA, 220 E. 42nd St. Suite 2800, NY,NY 10017.

We presented Werner with WPAW Proclamations from the Governor and from Cleveland's Mayor.

>The meeting was sponsored by the Population-Environment >Committee of the Ohio Sierra Club and co-sponsored by the Audubon >Society of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.

Alan Kuper, Chair,Ohio Sierra Club Population-Environment Committee doclink