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Threats to Biodiversity

May 16th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Gabriela Kaplan for the link to the article “Threats to Biodiversity.


GLOBAL: World fails to meet biodiversity target

May 16th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Leta Finch for this article.

The leaders have failed to deliver on a pledge to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, scientists say.

In a study published in Science , researchers said governments had instead presided over alarming declines in biodiversity.

The pledge to reduce the rate of loss was made in the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity and the research is the first to gauge progress towards the goal.

“Our analysis shows that governments have failed to deliver on the commitments they made in 2002. Biodiversity is still being lost as fast as ever, and we have made little headway in reducing the pressures on species, habitats and ecosystems,” said Dr Stuart Butchart of the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and BirdLife International, and the paper’s lead author.

For full article, visit:

Responses to “Population, Biodiversity and Human Well-being”

May 16th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Many thanks to Fred Meyerson for the attached copy of the letters to the editor of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment regarding his editorial “Population, Biodiversity and Human Well-being.” (previously distributed; see http://www.populationmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Fred-Meyerson-Population-Biodiversity-and-Human-Well-being-2009-Editorial-final.pdf), along with Fred’s reply. Fred reports that the Frontiers editor said Fred’s December editorial received an unprecedented number of responses, so they weren’t able to publish them all. Incidentally, the April edition of Frontiers carried the following erratum related to David Pimentel’s letter in the attached document: In the letter from David Pimentel (2010: 8[2]: 66) the text should read, “based on its current growth rate, [Earth’s] population will double within 58 years.” (not 13 years, as stated).

Frontiers March 2010 Write Back – Responses to Meyerson Meyerson reply (PDF, 109 KB)

Another Inconvenient Truth: The World’s Growing Population Poses a Malthusian Dilemma

May 14th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to those who responded to Science Magazine’s one-sided treatment of food demands without discussion of how to address population growth (found at http://www.populationmedia.org/2010/03/05/food-security-special-issue-of-science-magazine/). The published letters are found at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/eletters/328/5975/169-b#13107. Thanks to Kathy McKee for this link, and thanks to Merloyd Ludington, Roger Plenty, Peter Salonius, Joel Marx and Kathy McGee from this mailing list for their postings.

Thanks to Joe Bish for this article from Scientific American.

By 2050, the world will host nine billion people—and that’s if population growth slows in much of the developing world. Today, at least one billion people are chronically malnourished or starving. Simply to maintain that sad state of affairs would require the clearing (read: deforestation) of 900 million additional hectares of land, according to Pedro Sanchez, director of the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program at The Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The bad news beyond the impacts on people, plants and animals of that kind of deforestation: There isn’t that much land available. At most, we might be able to add 100 million hectares to the 4.3 billion already under cultivation worldwide.

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Debunking the Population Myths

May 14th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Mark O’Connor for the article below and for the information on the website of the Stable Population Party of Australia (SPPA), which is now up and running. See www.populationparty.com

Debunking the Population Myths

It’s time to start knocking down the myths that prop up population growth.

It’s inevitable that we grow to a vast population. No. Demographers say we could, if we chose, still stop at 23 million the figure the Australian Academy of Science has said should be our safe maximum.

Wouldn’t the refugee intake have to suffer? No, it could be doubled, even if we if we choose to stop at 23 million. Refugees are a tiny fraction of our annual migrant intake.
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The Critics – Deconstructed

May 13th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Many thanks to Kurt Dahl for this fascinating paper deconstructing the arguments against concern with population. Kurt’s material provides relevant answers to some of the postings at Mother Jones’ population forum, which you can see at http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/05/population-forum.

There are monsters on the loose today – vile ogres who propose that we should “dispense with seatbelts” and who believe “children should be encouraged to smoke at an early age” (From the Wall Street Journal). These villainous creatures are identified as post-reproductive rich white men who are trying to protect their right to own super-yachts (Monbiot, in the Guardian), and who talk of mass sterilizations and abortions (Harsanyi, in the Denver Post).

And who exactly are these monsters? They are people like John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor – a man who “peddles calamity as science” (Denver Post), and Paul Ehrlich, the “bumbling soothsayer” (also Denver Post).

For full article, visit:

“The Coming Population Crash”: The overpopulation myth

May 12th, 2010 | 2 Comments

Fred Pearce, author of “The Coming Population Crash,” is one of several authors who thinks population growth is not a problem. His publishers need to hear from you.

Pearce did an interview on the Daily Show. You can view that segment by going to http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch. Pearce’s views are also described at Salon.com You can post comments on Salon.com by visiting http://letters.salon.com/books/feature.

Pearce will be one of this week’s panelists in Mother Jones’ population forum this week. The others will be:

*Martha Campbell, political scientist and public health lecturer at UC Berkeley
*Paul Ehrlich, founder of Zero Population Growth and author of “The Population Bomb”
*Courtney Martin, feminist writer and Feministing.com editor
*Malcolm Potts, obstetrician, biologist, and author of “Sex and War.”
*William N. Ryerson, president of the Population Media Center and Population Institute
*Rinku Sen, racial justice writer and president of the Applied Research Center
*Julia Whitty, Mother Jones environmental correspondent and author of “The Last Taboo”

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Bomb Scare

May 12th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Zunia carried this story from Foreign Policy. You can post your comments at http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/26/bomb_scare?page=0,1. As one quote illustrates (“experts reckon we could support a population that’s twice as big or more without running out of food.”), this economist has not read the writings of very many ecologists. He clearly missed the announcement last year that over 1 billion people are hungry.

Ever since Parson Thomas Robert Malthus wrote his 1798 essay on population, it has been trotted out by millenarians and self-styled Cassandras as the basis for predicting famine and global woe. Malthus’s arguments were resurrected as a best-seller for the modern era in the 1968 overpopulation-panic classic The Population Bomb. More recently, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs has cited Malthus to explain the dire state of Africa, and Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson to predict a coming 20 years of global misery. The recent food crisis — which pushed 100 million-plus people worldwide into absolute poverty — has elevated Malthus’s reputation as a prognosticator to the Delphic levels of a Nostradamus or an Al Roker.

For full article, visit:

400 Million People Can’t Be Wrong

May 12th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Mary DeLavalette for letting me know about this Newsweek article.

As the nonstop TV commercials have made clear, the U.S. Census Bureau really hopes you’ve sent back your questionnaire by now. But in reality, we don’t have to wait for the census results to get a basic picture of America’s demographic future. The operative word is “more”: by 2050, about 100 million more people will inhabit this vast country, bringing the total U.S. population to more than 400 million.

With a fertility rate 50 percent higher than Russia, Germany, or Japan, and well above that of China, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, and virtually all of Eastern Europe, the United States has become an outlier among its traditional competitors, all of whose populations are stagnant and seem destined to eventually decline. Thirty years ago, Russia constituted the core of a vast Soviet empire that was considerably more populous than the United States. Today, Russia’s low birthrate and high mortality rate suggest that its population will drop by 30 percent by 2050, to less than one third that of the United States. Even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spoken of “the serious threat of turning into a decaying nation.”

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Econundrum: Kids vs. Earth?

May 11th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Alexandra Paul for this article from Mother Jones.

Last week, we held a household conservation smackdown. Change out lightbulbs? Retrofit your windows? Drive less? The answers are here.

But there’s one thing you can do with carbon-saving benefits that wildly surpass all of the activities on last week’s list: Have fewer kids. Assuming that an American mother and father are each responsible for one half of the emissions of their offspring and 1/4 of the emissions of their grandchildren, researchers at Oregon State University recently calculated that each child adds a staggering 10,407 tons of carbon dioxide to an average female’s carbon legacy, the equivalent of 5.7 times her lifetime emissions, or an extra 470 years of life. You’d have to change out 2,623 incandescent bulbs to offset a child’s carbon footprint.

For full article and to read comments, visit: