The single most important environmental issue we face is overpopulation. The logic is simple: resources are finite, but the demand for them continues to grow because of ever-increasing numbers of people. At some point, we will run up against a greater demand than we can meet. Many reasonably argue, in fact, that we already have reached that point.

What If The World Population Doesn’t Stabilize At 10bn?

by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA on 09.23.11

When I posted about a study forecasting that electric cars may not be cost competitive until 2030, fellow TreeHugger Mike reminded me that prediction is always a dangerous game. Yet when experts tell us that the future will look like this, or like that, we tend to listen. Yale360 has a fascinating piece on one of the most commonly touted predictions for the coming century—that the Global population will stabilize around 10bn. But, asks Carl Haub, what if experts are wrong and we keep going to a population of 16bn? The consequences could be dire indeed:

But we must face facts. The assumption that all developing countries will see their birth rates decline to the low levels now prevalent in Europe is very far from certain. We can also expect the large majority of population growth to be in countries and areas with the highest poverty and lowest levels of education. Today, the challenge to improve living conditions is often not being met, even as the numbers in need continue to grow.

As populations continue to rise rapidly in these areas, the ability to supply clean water for drinking and sustainable water for agriculture, to provide the most basic health services, and to avoid deforestation and profound environmental consequences, lies in the balance.

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It’s clear that we need to engage in serious discussion as a civilization about the issue of overpopulation. How do we engage people and convey the gravity of this need?

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