Tackling the Population Problem

Every day we add 227,000 more people to the planet — and the UN predicts that human population will surpass 11 billion by the end of the century. As the world's population grows, so do its demands for water, land, trees and fossil fuels — all of which come at a steep price for already endangered plants and animals.


Current world population:


Unchecked population growth also puts pressure on human communities, exacerbating food and water shortages, reducing resilience in the face of climate change, and making it harder for the most vulnerable communities to rise out of intergenerational poverty.

We can reduce our own population and consumption to an ecologically sustainable level in ways that promote human rights; decrease poverty and overcrowding; raise our standard of living; and allow plants, animals and ecosystems to thrive.

 

Endangered Species Condoms

Endangered Species Condoms

Endangered Species Condoms offer a fun, unique way to break through the taboo and get people talking about the link between human population growth and the wildlife extinction crisis.

The Extinction Crisis

The Extinction Crisis

Most biologists agree we're in the midst of the Earth's sixth mass extinction event; species are disappearing at the fastest rate since dinosaurs roamed the planet. This time, though, it isn't because of geologic or cosmic forces — it's because of our unsustainable human population growth and overconsumption.

 

Human Population Growth and Urban Sprawl

Human Population Growth and Urban Sprawl

As our growing human population reaches farther and farther into remote areas in search of room to build cities, housing developments, golf courses and new farms, we're squeezing wildlife into ever smaller habitat refuges, often leaving endangered species nowhere else to go.

Our Carbon Footprint

Our Carbon Footprint

A 2009 study of the relationship between population growth and global warming determined that the “carbon legacy” of just one child can produce 20 times more greenhouse gas than a person will save by taking other energy-saving actions.

 

The Center has been working to address the connection between rampant human population growth and the extinction crisis since 2009. Our innovative campaigns focus on common-sense solutions, including the empowerment of women and girls, the education of all people, universal access to birth control, sustainable consumer choices, and a societal commitment to giving all species a chance to live and thrive.

Bringing Population Back Into the Conversation

Human population growth is at the root of our most pressing environmental issues, yet it's often left out of the conversation. We can fight to curb climate change, stop habitat loss and clean up pollution, but if we don't address our unsustainable population, it'll stay an uphill battle that we can't win. The first step to solving a problem is getting people to talk about it.

The Center is working to put the spotlight back on human population growth. We're using creative media like our award-winning Endangered Species Condoms to start conversations on a person-to-person basis nationwide and using YouTube to explain those not quite so obvious connections between population growth and other environmental problems in short, entertaining but educational vlog videos. We're also pushing outreach by bringing the message to museums, science centers and classrooms and through social media campaigns like #CrowdedPlanet.

 
 

Supporting Reproductive Justice and Access to Birth Control

Both men and women play a role in human population growth, but when it comes to reproductive decisions, women are disproportionately affected by a lack of empowerment and access to healthcare. Many women are unable to get the contraception or family planning tools they want or need to make decisions about their reproductive futures. Unfortunately lawmakers are currently doing everything they can to restrict reproductive healthcare, including education and access to contraception.

Reproductive rights are an environmental issue. In order to make sure we leave room for wildlife, it's critical that every pregnancy is planned and that people take the environment into consideration when planning when — or if — they want their family to grow. When women have access to voluntary contraception and equal education, they tend to choose to delay childbearing and have smaller families, leading to lower fertility rates.

We support unfettered access to education, reproductive healthcare and contraception for women and men, whether they prefer condoms, oral birth control or long-acting contraceptives like an IUD or vasectomy. Every person should have the tools, information and ability to make the best reproductive choice for themselves, their partner and the planet.

 

Photo credits: Banner courtesy Flickr/Lucas Vermeer; Martha, the last passenger pigeon — public domain (U.S.); Cougar courtesy Flickr/Wayne Dumbleton.