Shortly after World Population Day on 11 July, the United Nations will publish their latest biennial population projections.
In 2013, the United Nations issued a global population projection for 2050 of 9.6 billion — an increase of 2.3 billion from our current population of 7.3 billion. That projected growth is almost equivalent to the entire global population of 2.6 billion in the early 20th century. The growth rate is decreasing slowly, but the annual net change in population remains high.
Only through investing in family planning and women’s education and empowerment and conducting public information campaigns about the immense strains that population and consumption growth place on the planet can we significantly slow the growth. Among the strains are resource depletion, climate change, water shortages, pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, wildlife extinctions, and ocean acidification.
“It is ironic that the recent Papal encyclical considered environmental and sustainability issues but brushed aside population growth as a driver of them,” said Roger Martin, Chair of Population Matters. “Population growth exacerbates poverty and conflict over dwindling resources. Poor people consume less and do less damage than rich ones. However, when and if poor people become rich, the number of people will make a vast difference to the planet. The Pope was thus completely wrong to say that ‘demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.’ With its opposition to artificial contraception, the Catholic Church promotes population growth through the resultant unintended pregnancies. World Population Day is a good time to urge the Catholic Church once again to change its doctrine on family planning.”