We can’t have a sustainable planet without stabilizing human population. As human population grows, human demands for resources like water, land, trees, and energy also grow. Unfortunately, the price of all this “growth” is paid for by every other living thing on the plant. The result is a terrifying rise in the background rate of extinction, an increasingly volatile and dangerous climate, and multiple ecosystems’ collapse.
Any honest and meaningful conservation and sustainability efforts must take the expanding human population footprint into consideration.
Globally, over 228,000 people are added every day — each needs sufficient land, water, shelter, food, and energy for a decent life. Fortunately, many experts say that population growth is not an intractable problem. Population growth has relatively easy and inexpensive solutions. In the 21st century, addressing population issue means working against oppressive cultural practices such as the low status of women around the world, gender-based violence, genital mutilation, forced prostitution, and child marriage. It means supporting girls’ education and reproductive health. After all, the denial of the rights of women and girls are important factors that significantly contribute to high fertility and population growth … because they rob women of social power and self-determination.
225 million women in the developing world want to avoid pregnancy but are practicing ineffectual contraception. This reflects womn’s diminutive roles, even in relationships with their partners and spouses concerning the number of children to have, more than it reflects a lack of access. By weakening and eliminating scourges like child marriage — along with strengthening women’s rights — global population may stabilize, and the long-promised gradual decline in population growth may begin sooner rather than later. No doubt the natural world will applaud this, as will individuals around the world benefiting from healthier communities and a more stable climate.
Vigorous pursuit of equal rights for women and girls, including women’s reproductive self-determination and girls’ education, is the heart of good population advocacy.