A Dose of Population Facts and a Prescription for Post-Pandemic Survival

PIC is very pleased to announce that two of its members have each recently had a book published on the issues of population and sustainability. We provide a short introduction to each book below.
Valorie M. Allen of Alberta is a population activist of very long standing and a long-time PIC supporter. Her most recent book is called 8 Billion Reasons Population Matters.

As its title suggests, Val’s book is replete with numerical facts – and the facts are shocking even to those of us who immerse ourselves in population issues and regularly encounter depressing facts and figures.

For example, it took humanity 200,000 years to reach the first billion people, but just 12 years to reach the 7th billion (1999 to 2011). We’re on track to do the same for the 8th billion (2011 to 2023).

There are more human babies born each day – about 250,000 – than there are individuals of all great ape species combined left in the world. Given that humans are appropriating for themselves ever more of the Earth’s surface (while also depleting the oceans), it’s perhaps not surprising – but still horrifying – that we are causing the sixth great extinction (the previous one having resulted from the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs).

Overall, species are going extinct at a rate that is 1000 times faster than the normal background rate of extinctions.

As Val points out in her treasure trove of solutions and success stories, we could reverse all this bad news by contracting our population and we wouldn’t have to use draconian measures such as China’s notorious one-child policy to do so: Over 40% of pregnancies globally are unintended, and over 220 million women do not have control of their reproductive health. Providing family planning education and safe and effective contraceptive options would put a serious dent in our annual global population growth.

We won’t eradicate poverty nor prevent environmental collapse if we don’t address the underlying population crisis. Unfortunately, while this is logically and logistically simple, it can be very fraught politically and we’ll have to stay tuned to find out whether humanity will come to its senses in time. In the meantime, population activists like Val continue their good work of raising awareness and promoting action.

8 Billion Reasons Population Matters is available at Friesen Press, Chapters, Amazon, and select stores. Information about Val’s earlier book Growing Pains is available at www.PopulationInSync.net.

John Erik Meyer is also a long-time population activist and currently president of Canadians for a Sustainable Society. His recent book, The Post-Pandemic World: Sustainable Living on a Wounded Planet, can be considered a combined history of human resource use and a survival guide for the coming energy and resource crunch.

Humanity has taken a great deal for granted during the past 12,000 years (the agricultural era) of “Goldilocks” conditions featuring a relatively stable climate and a healthy planet. The human population has been able to mushroom to nearly 8 billion people (from the approximately one billion when Malthus published the first edition of his Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798) during the industrial era, thanks to abundant sources of cheap energy.

Alas, cheap abundant energy is rapidly becoming a thing of the past while a changing climate will likely be part of our future for some time to come. To this can be added the depletion of both renewable and non-renewable resources through a burgeoning humanity’s gargantuan appetite, exacerbated by a growth-oriented, just-in-time economic structure. The pandemic should have been a wake-up call, but our leaders seem determined to continue business as usual.

John’s book offers a comprehensive strategy for people to invest their time and money and take control of their energy and carbon budgets, capping their costs of living and securing their resilience. It provides guidance on evaluating housing, transport, and lifestyle options. It aims to promote social awareness and the biophysical economic tools necessary to build a pathway to sustainability.

The Post-Pandemic World posits that the transition to renewable energy is inevitable and that it is up to individuals to take charge of this process for their own security and that of their families and communities. Covid has taught us that a healthy lifestyle need not be an environmentally destructive one. The author is hopeful that we can apply that learning to transforming our relationship with the planet from one of desperate exploitation to one of nurturing it for a sustainable future.

The Post-Pandemic World is published by Springer Nature and is also available through Amazon and other sources.

We congratulate Val and John on their work and hope these timely and important books will be read and shared by many.