Top Scientists to World Leaders: Do Something About Overpopulation

Some of the world’s top scientists sent a message to world leaders this week: address human overpopulation and consumption or risk “potentially catastrophic implications for human well-being.” The urging came from the world’s 105 scientific academies, ahead of the United Nations’ Rio +20 summit on sustainable development that began on Wednesday.

The statement was released† by a group representing the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and similar institutions around the world, including those of South Africa, Japan, Nicaragua, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. “We are delighted that the world’s science academies have chosen to come together to highlight two of the most profound challenges to humanity — population and consumption — and to call for urgent and coordinated international action to address them,” one of the group’s leaders said.

The message follows a study released this spring by the London-based Royal Society that population and consumption by rich countries present “profound” challenges to economies and the environment. It also included several recommendations, including support for voluntary family planning.

But you don’t have to be a member of a scientific academy to have your say about overpopulation. One of the best days to speak out is coming up soon on World Population Day, July 11. Write a letter to your local newspaper, start up a conversation at the coffee shop, or hand out some†Endangered Species Condoms if you have them on hand.

The message is clear: with 7 billion people now crowding onto our planet, the animals and plants we depend on to keep our world livable have fewer places to raise their young, less food to eat and water to drink, more pesticides to suffer, more polluted air to breathe. Wildlife extinction rates are 1,000 times higher than normal background levels, and human population growth is playing a key role in driving that catastrophe. It’s time for overpopulation to be part of the conversation about the future of our planet. You can help by raising the issue in your own neighborhood — heck, there’s even a columnist in Arkansas who’s doing his part.

You can find tools to raise overpopulation awareness here and sign up to join PopX, the Center for Biological Diversityís monthly overpopulation newsletter, here.


Related Stories:

Study Shows Population is a Profound Challenge for People and the Planet

Human Overpopulation Threatens Our Survival

100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to be Given Away for Earth Day



Amy L.
Amy L4 years ago

It seems that we only react to crises when things become a dire emergency and even then failure to respond seems to be the motto of law makers. I'm almost positive that scientist have been talking about the issue of overpopulation for years but it was more than likely swept under the rug. If it's not self-serving in some way law maker contend that they don't believe (as is the case of climate change) and do nothing or do things that are counter intuitive to solving the problem at hand (e.g. the demise of the bee populations so they continue to spray chemicals into the environment knowing full well they kill bees). I really don't see the human species faring well and the demise will probably be really slow and excruciating. Either we wake up and do something about climate change, over population, mass extinction etc now or we aren't going to here much longer.

Steven S.
Steven S.5 years ago

"What’s wrong? Everybody on Earth is in denial about our biggest problem ... population growth. Too many new babies, a net of 75 million a year. And we’re all closet deniers — leaders, investors, billionaires, the 99%, everybody. Yes, even Bill McKibben’s global team. The U.N.’s 2,000 scientists know overpopulation is Earth’s only real problem.

Get it? Earth has only one real problem, there’s the one main dependent variable in the scientific equation. But we refuse to focus on it. So, yes, even scientists are science deniers too. They know population growth is the killer issue, but are avoiding it too. Thousands of scientists have brilliant technical solutions to reducing the impact of global warming. But avoid the root cause. They keep solving the dependent variables in their climate-change science equation. But population growth is the cause of the Earth’s problem, not the result." Paul Farrell

Boba F.
Boba F.6 years ago

There are plenty of resources to sustain the species for more than enough time for the species to develop alternatives IF we stop breeding. Some families are having 18 kids and are not working, instead choosing to sponge off the state, while others work hard to earn enough but feel its irresponsible to bear children and contribute to the consumption society. When will the governments of the world pull their heads out of the sand and broach this problem?

Frank Mugford
Frank Mugford6 years ago

As a six year old child I used to cry myself to sleep on my Dad's farm because I realised three things: mankind was mortal, our resources were finite (until space freighters started bringing oil, gas and etc. to the Earth from outer space!) and the 'damned Chinese' were reproducing like rabbits! It certainly isn't currently the fault of the Chinese either.
Now, if a six year old can see that no equation can ever balance when one side has fixed and diminishing resources and the other side burgeoning demand(ers) of these resources, why hasn't anything been done in the intervening 65 years?
It'll see me out and probably my children as well, but I have real worries for my seven grandchildren.
As a species, I think we are finished; have thought so for a long time. Sadly, I think that we will be lucky to see out this century, let alone this millennium. We don't deserve to either, certainly not those morons, particularly in the US, who are deniers and creationists.
One thing Homo Sapiens Sapiens needs to do pronto is ban religion, particularly and specifically Roman Catholicism: why should a little man in a frock tell women not to use contraception and that abortion is wrong? We see idiots in the States, usually Repugnants, gunning down those who support a woman's right to decide what to with her own body. Unbelievable!
Seems to me that Repugs are 'Pro Life' before birth then couldn't give a fat rat's arse; if they did, why don't they support Obamacare?

Lewis R.
Lewis Ratliff6 years ago

Given the present, and probably,future socio-politico climate,, and with evermore divisiveness, government mandating of birth control is a straw in a hurricane. Incentives is the only practical option I see at present. Firstly, and maybe a pipe dream, if like minded people such as Melinda Gates could be found to offer private foundation help in the areas of education, housing, health care, etc, after sterilization (provided also). If done on the private level, there's no room for outcry, years in congress, or the usual BS. If done on the government level, it would still be a voluntary program. Presently, Japan and Taiwan hold the lowest birth rate, both attributed to by family financial requirements.

Pat B.
Pat B6 years ago

Humans are stupid. Our intelligence hasn't helped us do anything but find new ways to destroy ourselves and our world. I've spent over 3/4s of my life in one city. We moved a fair bit and each time we tended to move toward the city's edge. The house my parents finally bought was literally on the edge of town. Across the road and everywhere west and south was either farmland or forest. That was in '67. Now, 45 years later, none of that is left. The area we lived in has some of the richest soil in the country. The city is so obsessed with growth that it has been turning farms into subdivisions for the last 45 years.

Even then, I used to look at this and I couldn't help wonder how we could keep growing in population and tear up all this land growing the food we ate. It was illogical, but sadly our city is essentially controlled by development groups, and they have no trouble getting permits to build on even naturally sensitive land. So the city grows ever bigger, mostly outward, not upward, so of course it all means cars are necessary, and new roads and it goes on and on.

Basically, we're a microcosm of the earth. We tear up and destroy while at the same time our population grows. How can anyone believe that this can last? But no one cares. Profits today are all that matter, to hell with the future. It's sad, but it makes me glad I'm on the other side of 50, so my time here is limited. My daughter is 26 and she has no intention of having children and for that I'm glad. Ou

Bette M.
Bette M6 years ago

Pat....I agree with all of your comment.
Lord help us......Or something help us.
We are so pathetically stupid!!!!!!

Wherever you go there once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the man.

Pat B.
Pat B6 years ago

I remember when those first warnings came out with studies like the Population Bomb. They were scoffed at by just about everyone. It made perfect sense to me, just as I knew the day would come when oil would be used up, another thing that most people then scoffed at too. "Oh, we'll have enough oil for hundreds of years, it's never going to be a problem." Same with world population. We live on a finite planet with finite resources. How can anyone who thinks about it for five minutes think too many people isn't going to be a problem?

There's still so much denial about it, plus you have some religions who still insist that people must procreate. As long as that attitude exists, there's no hope of ever lowering our population. China may have adopted a one child rule, but India hasn't. I'm a pessimist I guess, but I think we've already passed the point of no return.

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Over Population lies at the very heart of the debate about Global Climate Change (GCC).

One cannot address GCC w/o discussing Over Population.

When Paul Ehrlich and his wife, Anne wrote their book, Population Bomb, many of us were in doubt of their cautionary writings. I, for one believed that man could rule supreme over his dominion, our planet. Then I decided to do the math.

On June, 01, 1968, when the book was released, there were 3,591,135,568 inhabitants of the Big Blue Globe, today there is more than 7 billion.
That point was reach and surpassed on Oct. 31, 2011, since there has been 53,505,780 more people born. Where you ask? Somewhere in India.

Do any of you remember the Chinese policy of "One Child Policy?" Currently, 35.9% of China's population is currently under this one-child restriction.

Had they not implemented such a policy, they would have realized an addition 400 million live births. Sustainable, I think not.

Stephen S.
Stephen Sparrow6 years ago

It's the most important subject there could be. The "End of the World as we know it" and the comments on here have been good to read.
I did stop reading them after a while though. When it became a case of too many contributors discussing, in a reasoned and intelligent manner of course, just why MEN are responsible for it all.