“Population, Poverty, Environment, and Climate Dynamics in the Developing World
,” in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Review
, by Jason Bremner, David Lopez-Carr, Laurel Suter, and Jason Davis, attempts to illuminate and clarify the complex relationships between environmental degradation, population dynamics, and poverty. Population growth is a key driver for the degradation of ecosystem services which has a direct impact on livelihoods
and human well-being, write the authors, especially for the poor. They argue that “population growth itself, however, remains an insufficient explanation of the relationship between population, ecosystems, and poverty.” While the field has a come a long way since its “original Malthusian roots,” they write, the relationships between these dynamics differ greatly depending on the area in question, and much work remains to be done on the less well-studied ecosystems.
In “An End to Population Growth: Why Family Planning Is Key to a Sustainable Future” from the Solutions Journal, Robert Engelman reminds us that population projections are not set in stone and that the widespread belief that population has to reach nine billion before leveling off is wrong. Nor is coercive “population control” necessary, he writes: “Population growth rates and average family size worldwide have fallen by roughly half over the past four decades, as modern contraception has become more accessible and popular.” Unfortunately, there remains a large number of people around the world without access to family planning, the majority of whom live in developing countries. Engelman points out that while the number of people of reproductive age has steadily increased in these countries over the last decade, donor support has declined. He argues that research, courage, and creativity are needed to reverse this situation, but in a world where most of all pregnancies were intended, population growth would slow long before reaching nine billion.