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  • ”Who’s gonna stand up and save the Earth? Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?”
    – Neil Young
  • ”Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”
    – Kenneth Boulding
    economist
  • ”Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
    – E.F. Schumacher
    author: Small is Beautiful
  • ”We’ve globalized an utterly untenable economic model of hyperconsumerism. It’s now successfully spreading across the world, and it’s killing us.”
    – Naomi Klein
  • ”Our economic activity is at war with the planet.”
    – Naomi Klein
  • ”The free-market fundamentalists will tell you that more growth, more stuff and 9 billion people going shopping is the best we can do. They’re wrong. We can be more. We can be much more.”
    – Paul Gilding
    author: The Great Disruption
  • ”Continual increases in population and consumption cannot continue forever on a finite planet.”
    – Richard Heinberg
  • ”Our economic activity is at war with the planet.”
    – Naomi Klein
  • ”On the one hand, it’s politically impossible to stop growth. On the other hand, it’s biophysically impossible to continue it ad infinitum. So, which impossibility is fundamentally impossible?”
    – Herman Daly
    former World Bank senior economist
  • ”The truth is this: the Earth cannot provide enough food and fresh water for 10 billion people, never mind homes, never mind roads, hospitals and schools.”
    – Richard Branson
  • ”We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it.”
    – Paul Hawken
  • ”Continual increases in population and consumption cannot continue forever on a finite planet.”
    – Richard Heinberg
  • ”There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.”
    – Mahatma Ghandhi
  • ”You don’t have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy.”
    – Paul Ehrlich
    author: The Population Bomb
  • ”If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with changed minds, people with a new vision. It will not be saved by people with the old vision but new programs.”
    – Daniel Quinn
    author: Ishmael and The Story of B
  • ”A growing nation is the greatest ponzi game ever contrived.”
    – Paul Samuelson
    economist
  • ”Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
    – Edward Abbey
  • ”We can’t frack our way back to economic prosperity; nor can we unplug a coal plant, plug in a solar panel, and go on expanding population and consumption.”
    – Richard Heinberg
  • ”We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children.”
    – Joe Romm
    physicist
  • ”We can’t frack our way back to economic prosperity; nor can we unplug a coal plant, plug in a solar panel, and go on expanding population and consumption.”
    – Richard Heinberg
  • ”Because of this civilization’s obsession with growth, its demise is 100 percent predictable. We simply cannot go on living this way.”
    – Adam Sacks
  • ”The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence.”
    – George Monbiot
    Guardian columnist
  • ”There will inevitably come a time that the society drastically needs to change the way it interacts with the environment, or it will lose its coherence.”
    – Sander van der Leeuw
  • ”In the short term, we must realize that we have better ways to create jobs and build the economy than holding an everything must go sale on our precious resources.”
    – Dr. David Suzuki
  • ”Population is the multiplier of everything we do wrong.”
    – Dr. Martha M. Campbell
  • ”We can share the earth and take care of it together, rather than trying to possess it, destroying the beauty of life in the process.”
    – Dalai Lama
  • ”A growing nation is the greatest ponzi game ever contrived.”
    – Paul Samuelson
    economist
  • ”If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with changed minds, people with a new vision. It will not be saved by people with the old vision but new programs.”
    – Daniel Quinn
    author: Ishmael and The Story of B
  • ”You don’t have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy.”
    – Paul Ehrlich
    author: The Population Bomb
  • ”I have – over the last five years – quite rapidly become a Malthusian. I have been won over by the data, and I have been won over by the logic of the math.”
    – Jeremy Grantham
    investment strategist
  • ”We’re going to need some kind of radical break with our past behavior if we’re to engineer a viable future.”
    – Mark Buchanan
    Bloomberg columnist
  • ”In today’s full world, resources are not only scarce but have become the limiting factor”
    – Herman Daly
    former World Bank senior economist
  • ”As I see it, humanity needs to reduce its impact on the Earth urgently and there are three ways to achieve this: we can stop consuming so many resources, we can change our technology and we can reduce the growth of our population.”
    – Sir David Attenborough
  • ”Long-term sustainability requires a materially smaller economy (the pie) shared more equitably (not equally) by a smaller population.”
    – William Rees
    Co-originator of Ecological Footprint Analysis
  • ”This is not about whales anymore. It’s about us.”
    – Thomas Friedman
  • ”I have – over the last five years – quite rapidly become a Malthusian. I have been won over by the data, and I have been won over by the logic of the math.”
    – Jeremy Grantham
    investment strategist
  • ”At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product.”
    – Paul Hawken

Overpopulation

Population is a multiplier in the equation for finding a sustainable balance on the Earth. The more people there are, the smaller our economies must be and the simpler our lifestyles. The bigger our economies and lifestyles, the smaller our population must be.

The science is clear that the current combination of world population and levels of consumption are unsustainable. We are in the process of liquidating the planet’s resources and injuring the capacity of life-sustaining ecosystems. It’s safe to say the world is overpopulated, and it will continue to be until we can say that we have achieved sustainable equilibrium.

World population reached 7 billion in 2011, and kept on growing. Some estimates have world population reaching 11 billion near the end of this century. Scientific estimates of the population the Earth can sustainably support range from under 1 billion to 5 billion. It all depends on how simply we live (in other words, how much we in the developed world are willing to curb consumption and contract our economies).

The good news is that overpopulation is solvable. We can, and must, voluntarily and dramatically reduce births so that total numbers drift back down to a truly sustainable level. By averaging 1.5 children, total world population would – instead of rising to 11 billion – decline to about 5 billion by 2100. A one-child average would reduce total population to below 3 billion – cutting our total human consumption by more than half from its current levels.

Around the world, people are demonstrating a preference for smaller families and are choosing that path. We simply need to accelerate that progress by raising awareness that the world is overpopulated, supporting access to family planning services, and supporting the right of women to determine when and if they conceive children.

Most advocates of sustainable population levels believe reducing population is just part of the work needed to bring our civilization into sustainable equilibrium. For the wealthiest populations, reducing consumption, contracting our economies (degrowth), and eventually reaching a steady state economy are also essential. But attempting to curb consumption and “green” our practices while ignoring population growth is like stepping on the brake while keeping the accelerator pressed to the floor.

Today many cities, states, territories and nations welcome and even pursue population growth. Some openly admit they link population growth with economic growth. Nations with declining population are attempting to increase low fertility rates in their obsession with economic growth. It’s difficult to imagine a sustainable world full of communities with such unsustainable goals and behaviors.

The documentary, GrowthBusters, explores the beliefs and propaganda that fuel these attitudes and policies. In many cases they are perpetuated by the elite growth pushers, those who profit from growth.

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NOTE: These links are provided to help you access more information and explore a variety of perspectives. We can’t possibly agree with everything posted on all these websites or written in every book we mention. Listing here is not an endorsement.

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