Help Bring Earth Day Back to its Roots

April 22, 2010 • News

April 22, 2010

Contact: Katie Elmore
Director of Communications
Tel: 802-985-8156 ext. 205

Help Bring Earth Day Back to its Roots

Shelburne VT — In honor of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, Population Media Center encourages environmentalists worldwide to draw attention to the urgent and critical need to stabilize population numbers in order to create a sustainable future for our planet and all of the inhabitants that rely upon it for survival. As one of Earth Day’s founders, Gaylord Nelson stated, “There is no way in the world we can forge a sustainable society without stabilizing the population.”

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, human population has ballooned 84%, from 3.7 billion to more than 6.8 billion today; and its net growth continues at 2.5 people every second. While population stabilization was seen as fundamental to conservation goals 40 years ago, it has become increasingly forgotten since. Even as environmental concerns have been heightened over the past 5 years with the looming threat of climate change, the issue of population growth has been nearly entirely ignored. There are several different reasons that the population issue has been marginalized, including religious opposition to family planning, reaction to coercive population policies in China, and the financial interests of the real estate industry.

Despite the very simple equation that determines environmental sustainability — how many of us there are and how much we each consume — we seemingly put all of our efforts into dealing with the later part of the equation, consumption. Consumption is a crucial part of the equation, and it must be taken very seriously. However, if we do not also address the other part of the formula — how many — all of our conservation efforts will not yield results. As BF Skinner so succinctly said, “If the world is to save any part of its resources for the future, it must reduce not only consumption but the number of consumers.”

The current net daily human population growth on Earth of approximately 214,000 people is exacerbating many of the most pressing problems we are faced with today, such as climate change, species extinctions, and food and water shortages.

“Without renewing attention to population issues and allocating resources to stabilize the planet’s population numbers,” says William Ryerson, Population Media Center’s founder and president, “future Earth Day events will have less to celebrate.”

Ryerson was featured in Life magazine’s 1970 Earth Day issue – the first year of Earth Day. Ryerson was a lead student organizer on the Yale campus for the first Earth Day. As a graduate student, he was Founder and first Chairperson of the Yale Chapter of Zero Population Growth (ZPG). He also served on the Executive Committee of ZPG, as Eastern Vice President and Secretary of the national organization.

During the last two decades, he has focused his conservation efforts on a unique strategy focused on stabilizing population numbers and inspiring people to adopt more sustainable practices. To achieve these goals, PMC produces and broadcasts entertainment-education dramas around the world. By developing engaging stories and creating characters that evolve into role models for the audience, PMC is helping to increase the use of family planning, encourage delayed marriage and childbearing, demonstrate the benefits of smaller families, and promote the elevation of women’s status — all of which contribute to stabilizing population numbers. By simply demonstrating the outcomes of various choices, PMC’s programs provide people with the knowledge and self-efficacy to make changes in their own lives for a better future.

Please join Bill Ryerson and Population Media Center this Earth Day in helping to bring Earth Day back to its roots, by bringing awareness to the critical issue of population growth.


For more information:

Contact: Katie Elmore
Director of Communications
Tel: 802-985-8156 ext. 205

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with a well-tested methodology for creating behavior change communication programs that address social and health issues in a way that honors the system of values of the community. PMC’s work is concentrated on entertainment broadcasting, particularly long-running serial dramas in which characters evolve into role models for adoption of family planning, delayed marriage and childbearing, elevation of women’s status, avoidance of HIV/AIDS, and related social and health goals. The serial dramas are designed using a methodology created by Miguel Sabido, a producer of Mexican television. By engaging audiences in riveting, dramatic stories, PMC is able to not only deliver important social and health messages to huge audiences, but is able to motivate them to change their attitudes and behavior on the issues. PMC’s strategy has led to significant, measurable changes with regard to elevation of women’s status, reduced birth rates, and overall improved health among the audiences. Population Media Center has produced and broadcast programs in 24 countries around the world and demonstrated a significant impact.

Current World Population


Net Growth During Your Visit