= 1 million
James Gasana, Rwanda's Minister of
Agriculture and Environment in 1990-92
“In the report I wrote for the IUCN's Task Force on Environment
and Security, I suggested that four lessons be learned from this
tragic chapter in Africa's history:
“First, rapid population growth is the major
driving force behind the vicious circle of
environmental scarcities and rural poverty. In
Rwanda it induced the use of marginal lands
on steep hillsides, shortening of fallow,
deforestation, and soil degradation-and
resulted in severe shortages of food”.
The 9/11 Commission Report
“By the 1990s, high birth rates and
declining rates of infant mortality had
produced a common problem throughout
the Muslim world: a large, steadily
increasing population of young men
without any reasonable expectation of
suitable or steady employment is a sure
prescription for social turbulence.”
The Pill is
Population growth 1950 -2050
Source: United Nations, World Population Prospects: The 2002 Revision (medium scenario),
CLIMATE CHANGE: IMPACTS ARE HARD TO PREDICT
OR QUANTIFY - but the poor are already suffering most!
+ Aquifers emptying
“Per capita demand for water globally is estimated to exceed
the available sources by about 2050”
- Sir David King, Chief Scientific Advisor to UK Gov 2005
The IPAT equation
Environmental “IMPACT” has only 3
causes which multiply with each other:
I = PxAxT
• Technology, its “green-ness” per
• Affluence/effluence and consumption,
again per person
• Population, the number of persons….
So, we want to REDUCE I = Impact?
• T = technology will help but almost all scientists
in agreement, can’t do it all
• A = affluence/consumption OUGHT, globally, to go
up: as the only way out of poverty is by ↑affluence
of the very poor (happening in China now..)
[Leave alone the problem of persuading the already
affluent to reduce their per-person consumption!
Let’s be honest, most of actions by Govts and
individuals so far are token gestures….]
• P = Population is the only factor left!
Yet it continues as:
“the elephant in the room that no-one talks about”
• Population: People feel they can’t
talk about it – but there is a large
unmet need for smaller family size –
i.e. it is amenable to change.
• Consumption: People can talk about
it – but there is no unmet need for
reducing consumption. More difficult
to change. Won’t, sufficiently. ..
High time population stops being
seen as a “given” to try to adapt to….
Mahatma Gandhi said:
“The world has enough for everyone’s need..1
But not enough for everyone’s greed!”…….. 2
No 2 remains COMPLETELY true, BUT:
No 1 may no longer be true, because we probably
now have too many ‘everyones’ if we want all on
earth to live (let’s say) a ‘modest British lifestyle’
Humans currently utilise c 130% of world’s total
biological capacity and by 2050 IUCN/WWF
estimates we will need 200%! **
**Another planet? Or half as many of us?
Isn’t this THE most ‘Inconvenient Truth’?
Planet finite…unending growth not an option….
Two sides of the same
no. of per
Greenest energy is the energy you don’t use!
AN ABSENT HUMAN
has major relevance to all the following:
• Over-use of fossil fuels – and climate change
• More to die in each climatic or “Natural” disaster
• Human rights/violence/genocide/terrorism
• Mass migrations
• Disease including HIV
• Maternal mortality
• Infant mortality
• Poverty, per head, even with ‘development’
• Shortage of water and of food
• Shortage of other basic resources (& energy)
• Conserving biodiversity/habitats/the Natural World
“Family planning could bring more benefits
to more people at less cost than any
other single technology now available to
the human race”
UNICEF Annual Report 1992
Aren’t these as much icons of the environment as her bicycle!
A DAMAGING MYTH
…that any quantitative concern about
human numbers on a finite planet is
• coercive - or
• exclusive - of other vital concerns
[especially poverty and Northern over-
Good guideline: 2 offspring replace the parents
Isn’t it true that, in rural poverty
(reinforced by culture):
1. “Every mouth has two hands” ?
(Chairman Mao): to work for the family
and supply a measure of ‘social
2. High infant mortality needs to be
compensated for ?
Partly: but for starters no woman wants
the biological maximum number of
Plus so MANY conceptions are unplanned
There is a widespread unmet
need for family planning
% of Married Women Who Want no More
than Two Children
70.0% 65.6% 63.8%
Actual TFRs between 3 and 6
Successful family planning:
• Make as wide a range of fertility regulation
options available as possible
• Use as wide a range of distribution
channels (including private as well as
governmental) as resources permit.
• REMOVE BARRIERS TO WOMEN
TFR Decline among Nations with
Well Organized FP Programmes
5 5.6 5.5
S.Korea Thailand Sri Lanka Colombia
Contraceptives available + accessible; barriers ++ removed,
Wild species now comprise only 3% of vertebrate flesh on plane