The UK’s Royal Society has announced that it will begin a major study into the impacts of human population. A largely taboo topic for decades, the Royal Society wants to provide a ‘comprehensive review of the science’ of population growth, according to a press release. The study, due in 2012, will focus especially on sustainable development in the face of population growth.
Environmentalists have long argued that the growing human population is one of the biggest reasons—along with overconsumption—behind the current world’s environmental problems extending from climate change to deforestation to mass-extinction.
Head of the project Sir John Sulston acknowledges that the issue of population is a controversial one worldwide.
“This is a topic that has gone to and fro in the last few decades, and appears to be moving back up the political agenda now,” the Nobel Prize laureate told the BBC. “So it seems a good moment for the Royal Society to launch a study that looks objectively at the scientific basis for changes in population, for the different regional and cultural factors that may affect that, and at the effects that population changes will have on our future in term of sustainable development.”
The group studying population is eclectic, including environmentalists, social scientists, economists, theologians, demographists (someone who studies population), and even popular wildlife documentarian and naturalist David Attenborough, one of the few public figures actively speaking out on overpopulation.
Today 6.8 billion human beings inhabit our planet, over three times the number in 1930. Experts have projected that by 2050, the population will grow to 9 billion people. Researchers believe that the global population has been going steadily upwards since the Black Death in the 14th Century.
(06/08/2010) In a bold move for a Christian church, Australia’s Anglican Church has linked overpopulation to the eighth commandment given to Moses on Mount Sinai: ‘Thou shall not steal’, according to The Age.
(04/22/2010) The biodiversity crisis, the climate crisis, the deforestation crisis: we are living in an age when environmental issues have moved from regional problems to global ones. A generation or two before ours and one might speak of saving the beauty of Northern California; conserving a single species—say the white rhino—from extinction; or preserving an ecological region like the Amazon. That was a different age. Today we speak of preserving world biodiversity, of saving the ‘lungs of the planet’, of mitigating global climate change. No longer are humans over-reaching in just one region, but we are overreaching the whole planet, stretching ecological systems to a breaking point. While we are aware of the issues that threaten the well-being of life on this planet, including our own, how are we progressing on solutions?
(01/28/2010) Sometime around 2050 researchers estimate that the global population will level-out at nine billion people, adding over two billion more people to the planet. Since, one billion of the world’s population (more than one in seven) are currently going hungry—the largest number in all of history—scientists are struggling with how, not only to feed those who are hungry today, but also the additional two billion that will soon grace our planet. In a new paper in Science researchers make recommendations on how the world may one day feed nine billion people—sustainably.