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World Population Day – Expect More

July 11 is World Population Day, meaning only that today the news media, and perhaps a bigger share of the public, are giving overpopulation the attention it should get every day. Why it doesn’t normally get this attention is one of the subjects explored in my upcoming documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. It is too complex for a quick blog read.


This insightful cartoon by Tim Newcomb cuts to the chase. It is quite clear the scale of the human enterprise has outgrown the planet. Nearly every crisis or challenge we face today is caused or aggravated by population growth. Yet for every crisis and challenge, stabilizing or reducing population is rarely mentioned even as one of the possible solutions. Too few are comfortable bringing it up. Unfortunately, those who do raise the issue all too often follow that up with a statement that population growth is out of our control. Or that demographic inertia means it’s inevitable growth will continue for some time. That is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We get what we expect. And it seems we don’t expect much of the human race. We could, voluntarily, bring population growth to a halt tomorrow, if we were all well-informed and believe in the intergenerational golden rule.

(Please support our project on Kickstarter)

One common objection to addressing overpopulation is that reproductive freedom is a basic human right. Governments cannot dictate family size. That may be true. But if it is, I suggest it will become less so with every minute (we add 150 people to the planet every minute). If we don’t voluntarily get population growth under control, we will likely reach the point where things are desperate enough governments will have little choice but to legislate limits.

Assuming we’d all like to avoid that, I propose we start talking about it. I propose we make sure every couple making a decision about family size does so – voluntarily – with full information about the ramifications of that decision on the life and very survival of their children. I propose we stop expecting people to be ignorant and selfish. Let’s expect the best of ourselves!


Help us choose a slogan for these packages of GrowthBusters Condoms. Vote Here.


Folksinger Jeanie Fitchen performs Changes in the Wind, which can be found on the GrowthBusters Earth Day Fundraiser Soundtrack, featuring Pete Seeger. Proceeds from sale of this album benefit production of our non-profit documentary.


Filmmaker Dave Gardner pushes “Population Information” on World Population Day in 2009.

Interesting conversations about world population at New York Times Dot Earth

Dave Gardner

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