June 28th, 2018

PIC has noticed that leading newspapers with large readerships have published a number of articles and opinion pieces on the issue of overpopulation recently.

In addition to the usual spate of reports on environmental, humanitarian and economic calamities, there has been an uptick of thoughtful pieces that present the issue of overpopulation and the challenges it poses.

From the Washington Post’s aptly-titled “Talking About Overpopulation is Still Taboo. That Has to Change” to The Guardian’s “Would You Give Up Having Children to Save the Planet? Meet the Couples Who Have”recent articles are highlighting different aspects of the population issue, inviting discussion on this still controversial topic.Taken together, they give a more comprehensive picture of the extent to which overpopulation affects the lives of all species on the planet.

feature article in Berkeley, California’s online community news site applauded Berkeley’s City Council for addressing the issue of over-population in its declaration of a climate emergency at a recent Council meeting. The writer of the article then went so far as to articulate the steady failure of mainstream climate change advocates and policy-makers to acknowledge and deal with the issue of population.

Any action to publicly address the issue of overpopulation represents a distinct breakthrough in the way mainstream thinking – political, economic, and the press – has dealt with the problem of global warming. More often than not, we are blind or ignorant to the reality that the principal culprit of global warming, CO2 emissions, is a function not only of per capita emissions, but of the number of people doing the emitting.

We hope this recent series of headlines is only the beginning, and represents the start of a real conversation on what constitutes a sustainable population and action on achieving it. It is regrettable that the government of Canada is still pursuing population growth as an objective and has even increased the annual intake of immigrants to 300,000 per year. This rapid growth will put further environmental pressure on the already densely populated parts of Canada and contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions as most newcomers come from countries with lower per capita emissions than Canada.

It is good news that population growth is starting to make the news. But we clearly still have a long way to go before an understanding of that issue shapes the policies of our decision-makers.