The Lancet has issued a series of reports, which taken together provide an excellent review of the evidence for the effects of population and family planning on people’s well-being and the environment. The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is one of the world’s best known, oldest, and most respected general medical journals. In 2011, the Journal Citation Reports concluded that The Lancet’s “impact factor” was ranked second among general medical journals, second only to The New England Journal of Medicine.
Some examples of the topics covered include:
To review the headlines of all the studies and listen to a 22 minute podcast which provides highlights from the article series, click here: http://www.lancet.com/series/family-planning
Below is reproduced an excerpt of an article written by Dirk Van Braeckel, Marleen Temmerman, Kristien Roelens and Olivier Degomme (The Lancet requires a free registration to read their articles).
Slowing Population Growth for Wellbeing and Development
A growing number of findings from different disciplines show that human wellbeing is increasingly threatened by unsustainable population growth. These threats occur at different levels. At the global level, population size is a crucial factor in consumption of resources. Technological advances have brought about huge increases in both the extraction of raw materials and in the efficiency of production and consumption, but stocks of raw materials are not infinite. The situation is much the same for food production; the two past agricultural revolutions (domestication of plants and technological innovations) enormously increased land productivity, and the ongoing third revolution (further technological innovation and biotechnology) will provide additional productivity gains. But a multiplication of the yield per hectare seems unrealistic and the possibilities to expand the area of land used for agriculture are very limited-certainly if people want to preserve ecologically valuable areas such as rain forests.
The key question is whether the earth and human behaviour and technology will be capable of providing enough food and resources for the growing population, taking into account that a substantial part of this population currently has many unmet basic needs. The Global Footprint Network1 calculated the average ecological footprint (the area of biologically productive land and water that a population uses to generate the resources it consumes and to absorb its wastes under prevailing technology) of the global population at 2·7 global hectares per capita, and the biocapacity (the capacity of ecosystems to produce useful biological materials and to absorb carbon dioxide generated by human beings, with present management schemes and extraction technologies2) at 1·8 global hectares per capita. This means that people are overexploiting both land and sea, thereby destroying habitats and harming biodiversity, and taking the means of existence from future generations.
To read the full article, please click here (registration required): http://www.lancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2812%2960902-7/fulltext