Population Media Center

The Podcast


Population 8 Billion is a limited series podcast to help you better understand what a world of 8 billion people means for the planet, the environment, and the future of our diverse societies. The series interviews scientists and activists as it delves into why global population growth deserves your attention and what inputs drive population growth and declines. It also explores how to make our current population more sustainable, why it is important for women to take a lead role in these conversations, and why the rights of other species and nature should be protected. The podcast is hosted by Population Media Center and produced by Czech environmental journalist Veronika Perková. There are six episodes, which are posted below as they are completed.

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Episode 1. The Dilemma of Sustainability

To satisfy the needs and desires of 8 billion people, we currently need 1.8 planet Earths. But because there is just one planet, we are overshooting its capacity by using more resources than Earth can regenerate and dumping more waste than it can assimilate. And because this has been going on for quite a few decades now, we also have to deal with the consequences – climate change, resource depletion, soil degradation, pollution, the sixth mass extinction, and ocean acidification. Even though the economists and politicians try to convince us that things are going to be fine, that we can grow forever and technology will overcome any barriers in a place with finite resources, this is a lie. And if we want to make living on Earth sustainable not just for our generation but for the posterity, we must talk about real solutions.

Episode 2. Pronatalism: Outdated, Unfair, and Unsustainable in a World of 8 Billion

“Your biological clock is ticking! Women have always had babies, what’s wrong with you? Without a son, you are nothing. Why stop after the first child, have another one!” If any of this sounds familiar to you, it’s no surprise. The pressure to have children – sometimes many of them – is everywhere you look. Well-meant advice from parents, the glorification of parenthood in the media, government incentives to alleviate aging populations, and religious encouragement to bring back good old family values, you name it. But what seems at first glance a mosaic of haphazard messages is, in fact, a part of an oppressive social norm called pronatalism. 

Episode 3. What Stands Behind the Success of Family Planning? Community and Couples Dialogue

In a world where nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended and more than 218 million women have an unmet need for birth control, it can be hard to feel hopeful. That said, there are plenty of ground-breaking examples of progress, from Guatemala to Kenya and the Philippines, in decreasing the unmet need for family planning, advancing gender equity and lowering birth rates.

Episode 4. Women Leaders Working on Ending Population Growth

Most people still associate the word “population” with population control programs of the past and refrain from talking about this issue altogether. But in a world of 8 billion, where more than 218 million women still lack access to the most important decision in their lives – whether and when to have children – talking about family planning and a sustainable population is becoming ever more important. And it’s time for women’s voices to not only be included in that conversation, but to also lead.

episode 5. Rights of Nature: A Millenia-Old Concept Revolutionizing Our Relationship with Nature

Many Indigenous and coastal communities have respected and protected Nature for millennia, because they understood that Nature’s wellbeing also means their own. Our modern industrial societies, however, have lost this tie and become so disconnected from Nature that we have come to see it as an array of quarries, mines and fields to support our insatiable appetites. By legally recognizing Nature’s inherent right to exist and thrive and giving her a voice, the Rights of Nature movement tries to transform our relationship with Earth and help protect our imperiled ecosystems, with some proven successes already (over 150 laws worldwide so far, ranging from Ecuador, New Zealand, India and Mexico.)

episode 6. Overconsumption: Why Living on Less Is So Hard

For 8 billion people to live in a way that is truly sustainable, everyone would have to take up residence in a one-room apartment with minimal electricity, no central air, heat or hot water, no washing machine, dryer or dishwasher, and have only a few sets of clothes and pairs of shoes. You’d also have to be a vegetarian who never drives or flies in an airplane. Sound utterly dystopian? “Maybe, but that is what it would take for all of us to live equitably,” says Terry Spahr, the founder of Earth Overshoot and filmmaker behind 8 Billion Angels. 

Episode 7. Celebrities, Priests and Friends: Changing Ingrained Social Norms Is Possible with the Right Messenger

Even though scientists, doctors and experts constantly bombard us with well-meant advice about how we should live healthily and sustainably, this has surprisingly very little effect on our behavior. Until we see our friends, coworkers, or people we admire adopt new behaviors – being childfree, going vegan, or giving up a car – we will be reluctant to do any of these things for the fear that it would be socially unacceptable or just too difficult. Whether these role models are religious authorities who make it okay to use contraception, famous bodybuilders who are also vegan, or soap opera characters who support girls’ education, they wield power over their audience and can make healthier and more sustainable social norms more acceptable.