Institute for Population Studies  |   Berkeley, CA  |   (510) 848-9061  |   outreach@howmany.org
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Many people's first response to our questions about population is, "Well, what do you suggest -- being like China and allowing everyone to have only one child?"

The short answer is “no!” There are many ways other than coercion to help people realize the benefits of having fewer children. When people have education and options for other careers they tend to have fewer children. When people have means of support in their old age, they are not dependent on having large families. And of course millions of people would have fewer children if they had access to birth control information and supplies. We totally support couples having the freedom to decide the number and spacing of their children.

Amazingly, there are many government programs, incentives and benefits that encourage people to have children. Such programs may have made sense when our country, and the world, was sparsely populated. But considering today's stresses on resources and space, it would make sense to eliminate many of these.

Freedom to Differ And in fact, we give up many personal freedoms as population density increases. We lose the freedom to drive where we want without traffic delays and park conveniently, to live near work, to live in a spacious house. Zoning restrictions are more complex in cities than in rural areas. We lose the freedom to walk alone on the beach or by a mountain stream.

Even our democracy itself suffers as we lose personal connection with the politicians who make our laws. What proportion of us are on a first name basis with our U.S. Senators, Representatives, or even our State representatives? How different lawmaking might be if politicians met their constituents at restaurants, stores and daily activities instead of just meeting lobbyists who have offices in Washington.

Classic News & Articles    [old Archive]

The Earth is Full June, 2011 - Thomas Friedman - The title says it all. Maybe now that Friedman has broken the ice, a few others can also say that the Emperor (of endless, thoughless growth) has no clothes! [original] [comments]

Ruling on Contraception Insurance
January 29, 2012 - Obama admin. finalizes ruling that insurance companies cover contraception without a broad religious exemption. Half of pregnancies in U.S. are unintended. [New York Times] [archive]

Resisting Dickensian Gloom by Tony Recsei. Forced high density policies don't reduce our carbon footprint or energy use. This is a very well researched article summarizing many studies. It was posted on a "smart growth" blog and many people have commented. Facinating reading. [article] [archive]

Smart Growth: The Worst Kind of Sprawl? Studies find that urban construction is no better for the environment than the suburban. People have pretty much the same global footprint either way. Transportation is a small part of it, and is offset by extra resources to build high rises. [article] [archive]

Tikopia: Living within Limits Feb, 2011 - The history of the Pacific island Tikopia shows that when humans are confronted with obvious limits to our resources, we are smart enough to constrain our population and enjoy comfortable, prosperous lives. [article] [archive]

Overpopulation at its worst? In the Congo's capital, parents only feed their children every other day. Demand U.S. contribute to U.N. contraceptive program! - Jan 10, 2012 [article] [comment]

Japan's economy stronger than USA's This is usually obfuscated by using total GDP to measure growth, but per-capita GDP is stronger in Japan. - Jan 3, 2012 [article] [comment]

Conjectures on Human Growth Limits, Jan 2004 - Ross McCluney's classic survey of ways to address the question of the best population size for our Planet. Hint: it depends on how we want to live... [archive]

300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds, Jan 2011 - Great(!) video on the history and effects of humanity's use of fossil fuels. As supplies dwindle relative to our population, what will we do? [short video]

The Critics Deconstructed Intersting article about the attacks against population activists, and the need for population awareness [article]

U.N.Predicts 10.1 billion people by 2100 May - This article corrects some common mis-perceptions about population. It is growing rapidly, but can be slowed by easy access to contraception, better education for women, and changing social norms. [article] [archive]

Mother: Caring our Way out of the Population Dilemma, Jan 2011 - The film follows Beth, an American mother who comes from a Catholic family of 12 and has adopted an African-born daughter as she travels to Ethiopia where she meets Zinet, the oldest daughter of a desperately poor family of 12. Zinet has found the courage to break free from thousand-year-old-cultural barriers, and their encounter will change Beth forever. [trailer] [archive]

The Moral Right to Set Limits, Dec - It seems right for us each to protect the positive qualities of our own region, the only place where we have even a modicum of the political ability to do so. But there is always a nagging question about that... [article]

Opposition to Power Line at Fjord Runs Deep, Nov 11 - A beautiful place. Why run a high-tension power line with 125 foot towers through the middle of it? Another toll of increasing population. [article] [archive]

Top 50 Birth Control Blogs. Sept 2010. Grouped by Educational, Methods, Population Issues, Reproductive Rights, Religious, Ethnic & Local issues. [article] [archive]

Nobody Ever Dies of Overpopulation, Garret Hardin
or do they? Much of the Pakistani land which flooded in 2010 is floodplain which was marshland that was only settled in the last 30 years... [article] [archive]

How many People can live on Planet Earth Sept, 2010
Sir David Attenborough asks this question in this fascinating video (YouTube).

The Last Taboo What unites the Vatican, lefties, conservatives, environmentalists and scientists in a conspiracy of silence? Read The Last Taboo by Julia Whitty in the June 2010 issue of Mother Jones: "Who's to Blame for the Population Crisis?"

Climate Change:
Calling Planet Birth

Family size is the great unmentionable in the campaign for more environmentally friendly lifestyles. Having 1 less child in the US would reduce carbon emissions 19 times more than all the E.P.A.'s recommended actions combined. - [article]

Drop in Birthrates in 2008 is Linked to Recession -Apr 2010
Population growth is not inevitable. When incentives favor postponing having children, many people do. [article]

Smart Growth? the smart alternative is No Growth
Although city planners are trained to call some patterns of growth 'smart', in many areas the only truely smart alternative is No Growth [article]

Parting the Waters - mid-East wars over Water Rights - March 31, 2010.
30 of the 37 Wars over Water in the past 60 years involve Israel and its neighbors. Fewer people living in these desert regions would leave more water per person. This should inform the population policies of all countries involved. [article]

A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice & The Environmental Challenge
Dec 23,2009 This new book compiled by Laurie Mazur discusses environmental issues as they affect equality, justice and sustainability. Regarding the UN's low and high estimates for World population in 2050 "if we take seriously the twin imperatives of sustainablilty and equity, it becomes clear that it would be easier to provide a good life - at less environmental cost - for 8 rather than almost 11 billion people." [Press Release]

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