Powerful population links

powerful links

If this site is to be of some help in the world, it will be by providing information, through essays and discussion, of which others make productive use. With that in mind, at one time or another you’ll be in a position to try to convince someone of the urgent need for action on the environmental crisis we face. One of the most contentious issues, of course, is population. In working on the “All Links” page I mention in the sidebar (It really is coming!), it occurred to me I should share right now a few population links you might find particularly useful in making the case for addressing population growth.

Their value is in their clout. They are all statements or more extensive resources on population from important scientific organizations or, in one case, from world leaders. If you’re talking with someone who denies the importance of population toss a couple of these references their way. It should give them pause to realize, for example, that a majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences disagree with them. ❗

Here they are, alphabetically, with brief annotation.

That’s just a preliminary list. If you know of other links that would fit in the list, let me know and I’ll add them.
Image source: thisguyukno, posted on flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license

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18 responses to “Powerful population links

  1. Dear John,

    The global challenges before humanity are here and now… and they appear to be formidable. Because I am a member of the elder generation, I may not be directly impacted by the huge, approaching problems that are visible and, even now, loom ominously on the far horizon. Even so, my children will likely come face to face with daunting problems. The children are the source of my concern and sense of urgency.

    Perhaps it will be helpful to have great scientists like Gretchen D., Peter V. and Paul E. put the distinctly human predicament in perspective for us with hope that people are going to choose conservation more than dissipation; preservation rather than degradation; survival rather than extinction, because the current rate of unbridled growth at which the human species conspicuously consumes limited resources, endlessly expands economic globalization and rapidly propagates its population is patently unsustainable in a finite world the size of Earth.

    Please find at the link below a video entitled “CALL OF LIFE” and answer the call to think in new ways, make adaptive behavior changes, share resources, protect biodiversity and preserve the integrity of Earth.


    With thanks to Dr. Daily, Dr. Vitousek, Dr. P. Ehrlich, Dr. Melissa K. Nelson and other colleagues,


  2. I think we may have found the answer…


  3. Hi make/shift (the former coastal dissident 🙂 ),

    I’ve skimmed over the vhemt site before. The first time I saw it I thought it was a joke. I confess I still haven’t read enough of it to know exactly where they’re coming from, but my guess it they want to make people think. Along those lines is this article from New Scientist – “Imagine Earth without people”:


    From the article:

    “The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better,” says John Orrock, a conservation biologist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California.

    Haven’t read Steve’s link yet. I’ll be interested to see what it’s all about.

    Now, before someone starts accusing me of being a misanthrope, again, the idea is to think about our role and our impact as a species.

  4. make/shift

    It was really a joke, sorry if I made it sound too serious.

    I really don’t think people are going to wise up about population capacity. It will take some natural disaster or massive epidemic to reform our numbers, like it always has. Disease spreads when things live too close together and waste is not handled properly, just get enough humans in one place and our germs will take care of sustainability.

    Do I wish it was different, yes. But I really don’t think it is. Call me a pessimist.

  5. I figured it was at least part joke but, like that site, it’s a strange topic about which you can never be totally sure. 😕 It does provoke some thought.

    On disease… there was a brouhaha on the Web a while back when University of Texas professor Eric Pianka suggested in a speech something very similar to what you’re saying — that as our numbers increase in a time of easy travel, the chance of a worldwide pandemic of some serious illness goes up and may at some point lead to a real die-off:


    A guy who I think is a Christian fundamentalist heard him say it and was for some reason offended by it. He twisted it to mean he was advocating killing off a large portion of the population, reported it on a kind of pseudo “science” site, and it triggered an online firestorm for about a week. Fortunately, his colleagues came to his defense, people found out what he’d said was not what the other guy reported, etc….

    Anyway, right now I’m teetering in a zone not quite of optimism, but I suppose… fearful hope.

  6. Magne Karlsen

    Yes, I’ve also previously come across The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. I believe, like John indicates, they’re trying to make people think. There are other web sites like that. From the top of my head I can recall The Church of Euthanasia – not exactly of the same mould as VHEMT, more humouristic really, anarchist or anachronistic, but still: the general idea is the same: “Live as long and as happily as you possibly can, but please: make no babies, it’s not worth it.”

    I guess we’ve all heard that old phrase: “Who would want to give birth to a child, in a world that sucks this much?” — Believe me: many people are very clear on this, and truly believes there’s a wisdom in this.

  7. Magne Karlsen


    The idea of rapid population decline is – under normal circumstances – nothing but a dream. I believe we shall have to accept the fact that the world’s population cannot be stabilized before our total number has reached about 9 billion. – Well, that’s under normal circumstances, as I said. Ec0logical disasters of horrendous scales may not be considered normal, but okay: who’s to say that it’s a totally unthinkable scenario for the future?

  8. Dear Magne,

    Please allow me to disagree with you in the strongest possible terms. Rapid population decline is only a dream for people who do not believe the world itself and everything about it is miraculous.



  9. make/shift

    The world and everything about it is miraculous?

    Are using that as an adjective, like saying “that omelet was miraculous!” or are you saying that the world and all it’s processes are a miracle?

    If you are using miraculous in the first context, I don’t really understand what that has to do with the actual problem of population dynamics. It sounds like a utopia statement describing some innate human goodness which will unite all sects and race and save our sorry asses. Well, I agree, a little. I think people do have a remarkable ability to come together when the going gets rough. However, I also think that “going gets rough” time will happen at the cost of millions of human lives before people wake up, so to speak.

    If you are implying the latter, that the world was somehow miraculously created and is cared for, I strongly disagree. Not only as a self proclaimed atheist and defender of my common sense, but as a rational reader and critic of the history and beliefs of whatever God or deity is in possession of fate. If God’s idea of population control resembles anything like Sodom and Gomorrah, or a great flood, count me out. I’ll take my chances with a plague. Nothing religion could ever bring on a world-wide scale sounds “Utopian” to me.

  10. make/shift

    By the way,

    For got to say, Hi John! Thanks for the add to your blogroll, I appreciate it. You can expect reciprocation of course…

    You have a really great blog here, it’s fun to have a place to wax post-moderistish philosophy and un-popular political news is made available, all in one place!

    Keep up the good work John.

  11. Thanks, make/shift. I hope to see you around here more.

    Lots of great stuff on your blog. I’ve been having fun perusing various videos and links. I need to get more up to speed on ideas surrounding anarchism, and the gardening info may inspire me as well. I’ll definitely surf over there often.

    (BTW, it’s good you have some hate mail. They say you haven’t arrived as a blogger till you do. 😆 )

  12. Magne Karlsen



    You should read this blog post by Trinifar. And read the comments as well: the issue raised above (the dream of rapid population decline) is being dealt with in the discussions there.

    What you (and everyone else) shall have to accept, is that world populations can never start to stabilize until today’s enormous number of “adults” (people my age: 25 – 45 years old) have grown old.

    Like Verdurous said in comment #8: “If we have a demographic bulge (eg. the baby boomers) and the fertility rate drops to replacement levels (2.1) don’t we get a continuing increase in population as the elderly population grows (as the bulge flows through)?”

    That’s my general idea. 🙂

    Under normal circumstances there is only one way to get a rapid population decrease going. It would be by means of forcing all women to not give birth to more than one child in a lifetime. If the entire world’s population should agree to take part in this scheme, it would truly come as a miracle to me.

    Rapid population decline may happen anyway. But as the result of natural event which — in this age of growing fossil-fuels demand, supply and consumption, should be seen as manmade, and not “natural” as such.

    But okay. We humans have now decided to allow our common fossil-fuels addiction to stay with us, as a part of modern human nature. So of course: whatever the human population may do to the atmosphere and the biosphere in general, on ground level, should actually be seen as just as “natural” as God’s Will and Fate. We’re only mammals, of course. And God resides among our numbers.

    God is what humans choose to do. And not do.

  13. Dear make/shift and Magne,

    Hmmmmm…….Your comments are understandable and welcome. Thank you for them.

    Would it help at all for me to say I do not know what God is; however, I would be remiss not to point out in all the seriousness of what is somehow true, according to my capacity to appreciate the ‘truth’ of anything: God is?



  14. make/shift

    I have absolutely no idea what this means:

    “I would be remiss not to point out in all the seriousness of what is somehow true, according to my capacity to appreciate the ‘truth’ of anything: God is?”

    Either you are way too smart for me, or we are having a different and therefore seperate argument. Either way, we seem to have gotten off course.

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  16. You might find this interesting:


    …how, in the City of Manila, NGOs that deal with reproductive health have practically been forced underground by the former mayor; where condoms are like illegal drugs that have to be supplied under the table.

  17. Hi rhinitis,

    Welcome. That is indeed a crazy policy. That paper, Population and Poverty: The Real Score (PDF) is quite worthwhile too. Thanks for the links. 🙂