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1 Million Person Net Growth Every 5 Days = Unsustainable Trajectory

January 7, 2022

Looking up at glass towers. Photo by Parrish Freeman on Unsplash.

The enormous size of humanity and its ongoing net growth—adding 1 million more people every 5 days in net growth (births minus deaths)—is one of many factors contributing to planetary overexploitation and is a serious obstacle to global sustainability. Population size and growth are not the only systemic strains and stresses on the Earth’s ability to provide for us while retaining its own health and vibrancy, but they are strongly influential.

That is why they deserve the thoughtful attention of the most forward looking people on the planet. At Population Media Center, it is central to our mission. We aspire to be progressive, reverent towards nature and people, and creative. We do not try to “limit,” “control,” or otherwise manage population. We operate on a completely different level: We weaken the many identifiable regressive forces that are known to keep fertility elevated.

To make progress towards our goals, we focus primarily on destigmatizing voluntary family planning, correcting misinformation about the safety and efficacy of modern contraception, dismantling patriarchal opposition to contraception, and educating parents about the many health and economic benefits of smaller families.

Family planning and girls’ education have well-documented and widely understood influences on fertility, or average number of births per woman, per lifetime. Population Media Center seeks to help global fertility, or average number of births per woman, per lifetime, decrease at least 14% from its current level of 2.4, down to 2.1 or lower. A global fertility rate of 2.1 would, eventually, cause population growth to stop. Today’s fertility always affects tomorrow’s population dynamics.

Expert United Nations demographers currently project that global population will increase from around 8 billion today to 9.7 billion people by 2050 — a 20% increase. By 2100, the projections calculate an increase to 10.8 billion — a 35% increase. These projections are built on expert assumptions about childbearing and human longevity trends. The most influential variable in these models is the total fertility rate. The good news is that by making immediate and transformative improvements in people’s lives today, history shows us that we can optimize the chances of population growth ending sooner rather than later.

Indeed, Project Drawdown notes that “Slowing the momentum of human population growth in a way that upholds human rights is an important factor in slowing carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.” 

Picture of Joe Bish

Written by Joe Bish

Joe is the Director of Issue Advocacy at Population Media Center. He holds a Master of Science in Environmental Advocacy and Organizing from Antioch University New England.