On February 23rd, our honorary patron Sir David Attenborough addressed the United Nations Security Council session on climate change. His was a stark, eloquent message imploring government leaders to act together at COP26 this November to mitigate climate disaster. If you haven’t already seen it, it is well worth watching.
The ever-burning question is: Will governments heed Sir David’s warning (and indeed the warning of scientists who have been raising the alarm for some time now) that we’re at a tipping point? And will the growth of the global human population and its ever-increasing consumption be acknowledged, finally, as root causes of rising C02 emissions? While climate change has received a lot of attention, the growing number of climate changers has received far less, as exemplified by China: as the poor pull themselves out of poverty, their greenhouse gas emissions rise. As the human population has grown, so have greenhouse gas emissions.
Universal access to family planning and education about the benefits of small families would play a tremendous role in mitigating rising C02 emissions. Government leaders must take action now to ensure that every human being of reproductive age has access to safe, effective, affordable contraception. PIC’s mission is to bring to the public’s attention that a human population growing by 82 million annually is not only an issue, but, given that it underlies essentially all of our environmental problems, the issue of our times.
We believe that the stories we tell can affect change. Whether it’s scientists’ warnings, the advocacy of Sir David Attenborough and Dr. Jane Goodall, or the radio and TV dramas of the Population Media Centre (PMC), the message is getting out there. The PMC had enormous success reaching their Zambian audience via two new radio shows despite never having connected with that audience before. Increasingly, we’re seeing more media coverage of couples making the choice to have smaller families, to remain childless, or to adopt. We can think of at least one documentary-type release in the last two years that explores the topic of being child-free, while another looks at the existential crises we face due to our growing global population. Additionally, Sir David’s documentary, A Life on Our Planet, highlights the rampant destruction of nature caused by human population growth and unsustainable consumption, having aired with great success on Netflix last year.
As Sir David noted in his address to the UN, we have perhaps a level of public support and demand for action that he himself has never seen before. And so, as we continue to share the story of the impacts of relentless growth, we encourage you to do your part as witness and tell it, too, when you can. The more people who bring it into mainstream conversation, after all, the better our chances of gaining real momentum and demanding effective action.
If you have the means or inclination to contribute to our cause so that we can change how people think and act about population, please know that we’re deeply grateful for your support – especially when so many of us, and our loved ones, are dealing with financial uncertainty due to the pandemic.
As always, we welcome your input on our coverage of human population growth and its ramifications. Feel free to share your thoughts about this post (or any of our recent ones) in our website newsroom, or to follow and join in the conversation about population on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
President, Population Institute Canada
Tel: (613) 833-3668