Some say population is irrelevant – so why is it always in the news?

By Joe Bish | 7 July 2022
Population Media Center

(Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash)

It is not hard to find impassioned opinions stating human population size and growth have little to do with humanity’s incontestable ruination of Earth’s environment. At best, you may find a grudging acceptance that population might matter, but only in a minor way, and nothing much can be done about it anyway. More often you get breathless, caustic diatribes that sound an awful lot like ad hominem attacks, writ large.

There is a very simple way to refute these types of population dismissals: just read the news. It is not rocket science. Setting up a simple Google News alert for “population” will do wonders for your education.

For example, in the past couple of weeks, here are some stories that have crossed the wires:

Montana’s growing population is forcing wildlife managers to adapt

Over the past decade Montana’s population grew by about 10%. Lemon says human-wildlife conflicts are more of a problem than ever before, and that’s to be expected in a state that saw the third highest population surge in the country over the last two years. “In Montana, all of the places where we’ve built towns used to be wildlife habitat and it’s not anymore.”

Colorado outlines its plan for how the state will deal with water shortages worsened by climate change and population growth

Colorado’s water leaders have released an updated blueprint detailing how the state will manage and conserve water supplies as climate change and population growth strain the system in unprecedented ways.

Conservation groups demand protection for Florida bat facing extinction

Human population growth and associated development have slashed the bat’s habitat over time, but climate change and rising sea levels also pose the threat of a phenomenon called “coastal squeeze,” where a species and its habitat become trapped between urban development and continuously rising seas, until its ultimately squeezed out of existence.

Biodiversity impacts and conservation implications of urban land expansion projected to 2050

As the global urban population is poised to grow by 2.5 billion over the next 30 years, urban land conversions are expected to be an increasingly prominent driver of habitat and biodiversity loss.

These are real-world, tangible, non-ideological examples of the relevance of population size and growth. They are also a great antidote to those who refuse accept the reality of population size and growth as one of many legitimate environmental issues.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

Joe Bish is the director of Issue Advocacy with the Population Media Center.

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  1. Good piece but I had a giggle at "so why is it always in the news?". It is always in the news and in documentaries etc., but just about every site I go to will have comments like "why is no-one talking about overpopulation" or similar. And they are serious.


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