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.
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.
A recent study led by Georgina Mace, ecosystem professor at University College London, indicated that governments across the world have failed to grasp the risk that population booms in coastal cities pose as climate change continues to cause rises in sea levels and extreme weather events. Mace is director of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment […]
Greenland, one of the largest ice sheets in the world, is melting. In fact, it is melting ahead of schedule as the world warms. Scientists are working hard to deepen their understanding of this ice sheet’s behavior so that we can predict how fast and how much of the ice sheet will melt in the […]
An “induced implosion” of the fossil fuel industry must take place for there to be any chance of avoiding dangerous global warming, according to one of the world’s most influential climate scientists. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, an adviser to the German government and Pope Francis, said on Friday: “In the end it is a moral […]
More than half of the wastewater from fracked oil wells in California is disposed of in open, unlined pits and could contaminate groundwater, according to a state-mandated study of hydraulic fracturing issued Thursday. The California Council on Science and Technology study presents a cautious assessment of fracking in the state. And it’s not likely to defuse the political fight […]
BANGKOK – Bangkok’s tap water supply may run out in a month, as the country waits for long overdue rains to replenish sources depleted by drought and threatened by seawater creep, the chief of the capital’s water authority said. Thailand is suffering its worst drought in more than a decade. In an effort to maintain […]
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!
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]
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.
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.
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.
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
Japan's economy stronger than USA's
This is usually obfuscated by using total GDP to measure growth, but per-capita GDP is stronger
- Jan 3, 2012
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...
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?
The Critics Deconstructed Intersting article about the attacks against population activists,
and the need for population awareness
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.
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.
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
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.
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...
The Last Taboo What unites the Vatican, lefties, conservatives,
environmentalists and scientists in a conspiracy of silence?
The Last Taboo
by Julia Whitty in the June 2010 issue of
Mother Jones: "Who's to Blame for the Population Crisis?"
Calling Planet Birth
Family size is the great unmentionable in the campaign for more environmentally friendly
Having 1 less child in the US would reduce carbon emissions 19 times more than
all the E.P.A.'s recommended actions combined. -
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.
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
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.
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."