Overpopulation is the key issue of our time and deserves an open, honest and unprejudiced debate so we can explore solutions.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss the topic and aim to confront the criticisms we face most often.
Below are the most frequent criticisms we come across.
1. Having smaller families won’t make any difference.
Choosing to have smaller families (one, two or even no children) ultimately means fewer people on the planet. With overpopulation having a negative impact on resources, wildlife and climate change, fewer people can reduce the pressure on our planet.
We believe it is possible to achieve the UN’s low projection of a world population of 7.4 billion by 2100, rather than the UN’s medium projection of 11.2 billion – or the alarmingly high projection of 16.6 billion.
The UN has also indicated that smaller families can help to acheive this, calculating that if every family had half a child less, there would be 1 billion fewer people by 2050. Of course, we can't literally have half a child less, but we want everyone to be able to choose to have smaller families overall.
Find out more about the importance of smaller families.
2. Population isn't the problem, climate change/plastic is.
The human population and climate change are linked. Every additional person increases carbon emissions. And richer people in the developed world are responsible for more emissions than those in the developing world.
In 2017(?), 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries signed “warning to humanity” detailing the gravity and urgency of the environmental threats of our time.
“It is time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.”
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Find out more about population and climate change.
3. There’s nothing I can do I about it.
Yes there is! Choosing to have a smaller family can have a definite impact. You can also donate, volunteer and support one of our campaigns.
Find out more about how you can take action.
4. Don’t we need young people to support an ageing population?
This isn’t the case. Those young people will also become old. The idea that we need more people to support older generations is an unsustainable pyramid scheme – benefiting the present generation at the expense of the next.
5. Isn’t this about global injustice? We can’t blame poor people in the Global South for the problems caused by rich people in the Global North. We need a fairer world, not fewer people in it.
Concerns around population apply to rich and poor countries alike. People in developed countries have a disproportionate impact on the planet: for example a person in the UK produces 70 times the CO2 of someone in Niger. That means that fewer people being born in developed countries has the most immediate and positive impact on our environment, climate and sustainability.
Find out more about… (link to which page?)
6. Environmental damage is about consumption, not population.
The two are inextricably linked. The human race consumes more than our planet can sustain. Population and associated consumption, especially in the developed world, is a driver of multiple environmental problems; increasing population will only increase this pressure. We are currently using the equivalent resources of 1.7 Earths. We can all choose to live more sustainably, but reducing the overall population will have the greatest effect.
Find out more about our planet’s resources.
7. You can’t reduce the population without coercion/force/abusing human rights.
While Population Matters expresses concerns regarding human population numbers and lobbies actively to reduce its growth, we are wholly opposed to punitive population control, forced sterilisation or abortions or any other activity, which violates human rights. We vehemently believe population control is possible without coercion, force or abusing human rights.
To have or not to have children is a fundamental human right that everyone should be free to exercise without judgment or criticism. Population Matters believes in empowerment, education and the freedom to choose to have – or not have – children. This choice doesn't exist for many people across the world, we want to change this.
We support and promote projects around the world that campaign for this basic human right.
8. Population is going to stop growing soon anyway.
While population may be declining in some areas and growing in others, there is an overall increase. And this rise looks set to continue. The UN has a low projection of 7.4 billion people by 2100, and a staggeringly high projection of 16.6 billion people by the same year. It's imperative that we achieve the low projection of world population.
Find out more about the issues of a rising population.
9. Birth rates are low in Europe and America – this is just an issue for other parts of the world.
People in developed area, such as Europe and America, have a disproportionate impact on the planet. For example a person in the UK produces 70 times the CO2 of someone in Niger. That means that fewer people being born in these countries has the most immediate and positive impact on our environment, climate and sustainability.
Find out more about… [link to which page?]
About Population Matters
Population Matters is putting overpopulation on the global agenda, bringing the issue to an international audience through our campaigning, education and research.