The increase in the number of people alive on Earth from 2.2 billion in 1946 to seven billion today can be viewed in two ways. While some people choose to perceive it only as a success in overcoming diseases, malnutrition and other factors that contribute to high fatality rates, others recognize the negative impacts that the ever-increasing number of people are having on global resources.
Although many people have adopted the notion that the only possible economic logic is one based on more people consuming more “stuff”, there is a need for a new economic logic that is based on fewer people consuming less. The evidence that nature is unable to support the growing global population is irrefutable and reflected in the soaring demand for water, food and energy.
The strains on global resources are closely related to women’s ability to access contraception. Thinking that aiming for lower birth rates is only important in developing countries is a misconception — aiming for lower birth rates in developed countries is important as well. There is still an unmet need for contraception globally.
We should consider how we can push population issues to the forefront of policy agendas. Another challenge that must be addressed is how to encourage conversations that will not only help people understand the factors that affect population growth and its impact on the environment, but change behaviour and attitudes.
David Attenborough, who is one of our patrons, has acknowledged that there is no environmental problem that is not made worse by an increasing number of people.