Population Matters



Achievement2015/16: Membership — Record membership numbers

We receive no government funding and rely on the thousands of people from more than 30 countries around the world who are our members and donors. As a supporter member, you may join in our campaigns, participate in our activities and receive our publications. Active supporter members may apply to become one of our guarantor members — they are the ultimate owners of the charity and vote at our Annual General Meetings.

Some supporter members talk below about why and how they became concerned about population and joined Population Matters:

“Efforts to reduce our use of the planet’s scarce resources, slow the impact of global warming and safeguard some level of biodiversity on Earth all carefully avoid the elephant in the room — population growth — which increases demand for land, and consumption of food, water, energy. It is very interesting how population control has moved off the political agenda for the past thirty or so years. If we don’t lobby for positive population control measures, then how future generations of humans are able to live and experience life will be changed for ever.”
– Fiona Baird, London

“I became a supporter of Population Concern due to reading an article in the Ecologist that set out the problems arising from an ever-growing population. I did volunteer with Population Concern for a day a week for about 18 months, starting around the time when they changed their name to Interact Worldwide. Whilst I am still a supporter, it became clear that they were no longer an effective vehicle for transmitting the critical population message and I was seeking a more active alternative. After some time, I heard a radio interview with someone from Population Matters and felt that I might have found that viable population messenger.”
– Alan Bristow, Shipbourne, Kent

“It has been obvious to me for some decades that the UK in particular was trying to cater for far too many people, with the quality of life deteriorating, while the standard of living was allegedly improving. I saw the first reference to Population Matters in the International Express some time ago — I currently live in Australia.
“My main concern is for the UK. One could say that poverty is only prolonged and exacerbated by having more children than can be afforded, and every assistance and encouragement should be given to make this not just a logical, ‘respectable’ approach, but also take the opportunity of tackling the ridiculous taboo about this subject.”
– Marian Day, Moss Vale, NSW, Australia

“About the year 2000, it became apparent that there was a further surge in population — Gordon Brown announced that he was planning 10 new towns, and England moved up the scale to become the most crowded country in Europe. It was also clear that the population surge was not unavoidable, but was directly due to government policies, and thus could easily be halted if there was the political will. I also noticed that there were plenty of agencies — like the National Trust, the RSPB and CPRE — who worried about the environment and were campaigning to preserve it, and our towns and villages, but that they did not address the root problem of dramatic and unending population growth. I also realised more and more that over-population was not simply an issue for England, but for the world. Somehow, I came across Population Matters around 2008, and realised that a group existed who were prepared to take action.”
– Peter Graystone, Newcastle, Staffordshire

“Ever since I found and read Malthus’ Essay on Population — on my father’s bookshelves at the age of 10 — I have felt concerned about heedless population growth. My frustrations have grown ever since at the failure of successive aid campaigns in the third world not to recognise how much of the recurring starvation and misery could have been alleviated with family planning available to all. That the destruction of wild life and habitat caused by their expanding numbers will only impoverish them further seems blindingly obvious and so visibly portrayed in David Attenborough’s second visit to Madagascar last year. There are at last a few influential voices — and for this Population Matters is so necessary — and most importantly, political denial must be broken down.”
– Valda Lynen, Cannes, France

“At the age of 23 I went to work in Kenya. In the last 50 years Kenya’s human population has quadrupled, while the elephant population has been decimated. What a beautiful and prosperous place it would be now if only population growth (and corruption) had been checked! For me it has been glaringly obvious that population, politics, women’s rights, education and the environment are closely inter-related. Of these, it is the first that is currently most neglected and that is why I support Population Matters.”
– Simon Mollison, Oxford

“Until recently, I viewed resource consumption largely as a first-world thing and overpopulation as a third world thing and, given the media consensus that each individual in the third world consumed virtually nothing, the third world population was not a major environmental problem. This view was reinforced by the lack of emphasis in the media on overpopulation as being a problem or even an issue. Learning that the population issue had been raised in the sixties, but that major religious leaders had blocked the contraceptive measures necessary for effective family planning, and indeed had continued to encourage couples to have large families; and that these religions were still recruiting in the third and developing world in particular, I could understand why people felt that they had come up against a brick wall as far as population control was concerned, and so focused on resource consumption. However, as inhabitants of the developing world increasingly tend to aspire to the lifestyle and associated resource consumption of the first world, individuals are suddenly seen to make a difference, and even if consumption was held steady, the fact that the human population has doubled since the sixties has only emphasized how critical responsible family planning is.”
– James Morrow, Belfast

“As a biologist and atheist I feel we are just one species among many and have no special rights over the planet, but should use our much-flaunted “superior intelligence” to ensure a good, sustainable standard of living rather than facing maximum numbers fighting over dwindling resources.”
– Polena Riemann, London

“The “tipping point of realisation” for me was watching Al Gore’s otherwise excellent film An Inconvenient Truth that sets out to establish the man-made nature of climate change, but fails to make any significant mention of rising numbers of global population. I took the trouble to plot the historic increase of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere against the historic increase in the numbers of global population and, lo and behold, the two plot lines ran as parallel to each other as a railway line. Clearly Al Gore’s courage in An Inconvenient Truth did not extend to setting out the obvious fundamental connection: The industrial scale exploitation of fossil fuels have permitted an explosion in the numbers of our species to levels that will become unsustainable as the availability of cheap oil runs out. And carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are simply an indicator of this mechanism at work. It was then that I was fortunate enough to stumble on kindred spirits in PM, who like me, are committed to “telling it like it is”. The planet is dying under our weight of numbers.”
– Alan Stedall, Birmingham