Deputy Director’s Corner
Last month a new study was released by Stanford University biologist Elizabeth Hadly, which details how South America was populated tens of thousands of years ago. In her report, Hadly compares the rampant population growth of our early ancestors to an “invasive species.” Using radiocarbon dating technology, Hadly found that as far back as 14,000 years ago the population reached roughly 300,000 – and it grew to an astonishing 1 million people between 5,500 and 2,000 years ago.
Hadly notes: “this exponential growth can be attributed to the establishment of large societies that allowed people to ‘conquer’ the environment.” She also echoes NPG when she warns: “If we use up our resources, we will decline.”
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times ran a story titled “Urban population growth and demand for food could spark global unrest, study shows.” According to the Times, the new report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs “forecasts that two-thirds of the world’s population, 6.3 billion people, will be squeezed into… cities by 2050 and that global food production would have to increase 50% to 60% to keep everyone fed.” The report also highlights: “In order to meet an increased demand in growing cities, the system by which food is produced, processed and delivered will need to change….”
Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and co-chair of the study’s advisory group, noted: “It’s a very, very serious problem and not enough people have been talking about it.”
The report echoes what NPG has long held – and what two of our recent Forum papers have highlighted. In Food Security in the 21st Century, geologist and soil scientist David Montgomery notes: “Globally, the amount of land available to feed a person will drop to 0.1 hectares per person by 2050. This means that somehow we need to roughly double agricultural production, something that will be all the more difficult if we continue to lose productive ground to degradation and topsoil erosion.” Throughout the paper, Montgomery links this dangerous trend of soil degradation to human population growth – and issues a warning that we must work to reduce our numbers, or we will inevitably face a serious food security problem in the near future.
In The Other Soil Erosion: Long-Term Erosion of Our Productive Farmland Base from U.S. Population Growth, NPG special advisor Leon Kolankiewicz focuses on food security within the United States – drawing on three decades of professional experience as an all-around ecologist to predict a grim future. He notes: “…if the U.S. population is allowed to continue soaring skyward with no end in sight, as projected by the U.S. Census Bureau and other demographers, America’s ability to feed herself… will be severely compromised.” He warns: “Even as the number of mouths to feed in America has soared to  million, and continues to grow by 2-3 million annually, the very land and water resources needed to feed these multitudes… are inexorably shrinking.”
As former Secretary Glickman pointed out, it is alarming that so few are talking about such a critical problem – a problem which will inevitably strike us in the near future. That’s why NPG’s continued work to educate the American public and elected officials is so critical. In the months ahead, NPG will be releasing a new Forum paper discussing exactly why overpopulation has become such a taboo subject for environmental groups and politicians – and exactly what we can do to bring this critical issue into the national spotlight where it belongs!
With your help, we work tirelessly to produce powerful, fact-filled, and hard-hitting reports that illustrate the real dangers of overpopulation. Just like you, we know we must continue to move forward in the fight to slow, halt, and eventually reverse U.S. population growth!
Thank you again for all you do!
World population, now over 7.3 billion, is predicted to rise to 9 billion by 2050, an increase of almost two billion, or 23%, in the short space of only 34 years from now.In the highly unlikely event that per capita greenhouse gas emissions could possibly be decreased by an equal percentage in such a short space of time (a blink of an eye) the total amount of worldwide emission would remain the same!
From this simple illustration it would appear that without drastically reducing the size of world population, there is no solution to the problem.None at all.So then why do our world leaders pretend that there is one?What is to be gained by pretending rather than by proposing a solution that would solve the problem – a reduction in the size of world population to not more than 1- 2 billion?
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