Dr. Jane Goodall and Sir David Attenborough are pointing out what should be the obvious—but comes as a shock to a growth-obsessed, globalized world.

Patron photos used with permission

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, two of PIC’s honourary patrons have been using their considerable influence and reach to draw the link between continued population growth and “unexpected” events such as the current pandemic.

Just a few days ago Dr. Goodall stated she believed the pandemic was brought on “due to [humans’] absolute disrespect for nature.” And last month, only a few days before his 94th birthday, Sir David Attenborough was speaking to the BBC about his upcoming film, A Life on Our Planet. When asked if Covid-19 was humanity’s “reckoning,” he replied, “Anybody who knows anything about keeping animals [will know] the more dense population you keep, the quicker a disease will spread, and there’s never been a denser population of human species until this moment.”

The COVID-19 pandemic provides an excellent opportunity for scientists and lovers of the natural world to speak out about the catastrophic consequences of humanity’s relentless encroachment on wildlife habitats. As many of us have no doubt come to realize, we’re likely to face a myriad of repercussions from the pandemic, among them rising food insecurity.

This year’s Global Report on Food Crises finds that:

  • by the end of this year, upwards of 265 million people could be on the brink of starvation globally, which is almost double the rate of crisis-level food insecurity at present;
  • it also finds that the most intense concentration of food insecurity will be in 55 countries around the globe;
  • Africa—where more than half of global population growth is expected to occur between now and 2050—faces bigger hurdles than any other continent.
But food insecurity is just one issue intertwined with the current pandemic. The pandemic is expected to lead to millions more cases of gender-based violence, child marriage, unmet need for contraceptives and pregnancy-related deaths.

As world leaders try to come to grips with urgent problems, they must, as Sir David says, learn to work with nature rather than against it. Many people seem to be gaining that understanding, as they see a returning of nature where human activities have ceased: seeing fish in rivers where they had long been absent and mountains long obscured by smog becoming visible again. Infinite growth on a finite planet is a physical impossibility. As humanity emerges from the lockdown implemented in many countries, it must strive to create an economic system based on resilience and sustainability.  A return to business as usual is a virtual guarantee that we will face another catastrophe in what will probably be the not-too-distant future.

A sustainable economic system will require a sustainable human population. You can support us in our mission to raise awareness of the threats of population growth to ecological sustainability and global peace by becoming a member, making a donation or letting others know about our organization. Please contact us for more information on how you can get involved.

Contact: Madeline Weld, Ph.D.
President, Population Institute Canada
Tel: (613) 833-3668
Email: [email protected]