TL;DR: Title says it all.

You do not have to be a math genius for this equation. The more people live, the more our ecosystem suffers, the faster it's resources are burnt up.

I understand from a political standpoint, that no one would like to address this issue, since it would require massive changes to fix it. Also, it's far easier to let our grandchildren suffer from the effects of human overpopulation (pollution, poverty, epidemics, famines, or even war / systematic killings at some point...) instead of taking a break for now.

But I'm sick of people/politicians talking about climate change, while cheering about a growth in population. So, aside from this little rant, I wondered if any "important" person or organization was ever brave enough to address this or even proposing a solution for this?

Update: I think I need to clarify that I did not want to start an argument about overpopulation or if it's even a problem. All I wanted to know was if there are politicians with similar views in context of climate change.

closed as off-topic by user4012, Drunk Cynic, Wes Sayeed, bytebuster, Martin Schröder Feb 13 at 21:44

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  • "The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about governments, policies and political processes as defined in the help center." – user4012, Drunk Cynic, Wes Sayeed, bytebuster, Martin Schröder
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    "since it would require massive changes to fix it" We could substantially impact overpopulation via free and accessible birth control, and affordable higher education (birth rates are lower for women with greater education attainment). I think these things are pretty doable if we chose to do them. – John Feb 13 at 4:13
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    We've heard it before. And then again, this time with ridiculous rationalizations for why predictions diametrically opposed to reality were totally right. – eyeballfrog Feb 13 at 4:40
  • @John that does require massive changes. Those things are hard to accomplish in rich countries, very difficult to implement them worldwide. – JJJ Feb 13 at 13:39
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    @KamilDrakari yeah, that's actually what I wanted to know. I'm sorry, my english is not that good. – user25043 Feb 13 at 16:34
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    @John sure, I do not doubt that. But I think it's way easier to stay at 6 billion, than decreasing from 12 billion to 6. Also a human lives for at least half a century, so you can't have a quick fix. This was the motivation for my question. – user25043 Feb 13 at 16:48

The first thing to consider is whether overpopulation actually is a problem. This is more of a question in demography than in politics, but it's important to consider in answering this question.

There is this idea of the 'fertility rate', slightly different from how we think about the fertility of any given individual, which you can think of as a measurement of how many children a woman in a given population will have over her lifetime. The fertility rate that ensures the next generation will be the same size as the current one is slightly above 2. This is called 'replacement fertility'. This makes sense, because if your parents have 2 kids, then effectively they are 'replacing' themselves and so the next generation will have the same number of people in it.

As it turns out, the fertility rate of most developed countries (e.g. in North America and Europe) is less than replacement fertility, which means that the population of most developed countries is not really growing. There's a lot of reasons for this, that have to do with developed countries being more urbanized, less religious, more educated and having better governments. Some developing nations, particularly in Africa, have high fertility rates which means their populations are growing, but their fertility rates are dropping as people there become richer. If you're interested in learning more, the late Hans Rosling has given a number of talks on this topic.

What this means is that the world's population is not likely to explode out of control. In fact, in Western nations we're already experiencing problems with a shrinking population: Japan, for example, doesn't have enough workers. Germany also needs more immigrants.

To finally answer your question: climate change is obviously a big problem, but it's not driven primarily by increasing population, it's driven by increasing resource usage as people become wealthier. A lot of current politics is a result of population changes, but those changes are a result of immigration into aging and shrinking Western populations, not because of overpopulation. That is why the UN and world leaders are not concerned about overpopulation.

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    You do realise that Europe an NA together have fewer than 1.5 billion people? That's less than 20% of the world's population. Therefore, shrinkage in those areas does not mean shrinkage overall. Indeed, since 1967 or so, the world's population has almost doubled. – JJJ Feb 13 at 3:24
  • While there's debate about when it will happen, population growth will and is slowing down; and as per the last link in my post, it's not a major concern in terms of climate change anyway. See @eyeballfrog's comment. – oscarcs Feb 13 at 4:56
  • @JJJ USA is using more resources than entire Africa. USA's has largest per capita consumption of everything. Depending on specific resources up to hundreds of time compared to Africans. As such, there is no overpopulation, there is however overconsumption, with USA leading the race. – M i ech Feb 13 at 10:48
  • @Miech while that is true, only 5% of the world's population are Americans. As such, the impact they have and will continue to have (looking at growth rates in different countries) is not of specific concern. – JJJ Feb 13 at 13:55
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    @Miech I'm not denying anything. I'm just saying both issues exist. Oh, and as other countries get more developed they will also start to use more resources. It's a bit easy to blame everything on the Americans. – JJJ Feb 13 at 14:44


I wondered if any "important" person or organization was ever brave enough to address this or even proposing a solution for this?

Yes, rather famously China used to have a so-called 'one-child policy'. Under that policy, parents could have at most one child. From Wikipedia's page on the policy:

Although the fertility rate began to decline, the Chinese government observed the global debate over a possible overpopulation catastrophe suggested by organizations such as Club of Rome and Sierra Club. It thus began to encourage one-child families in 1978, and then announced in 1979 its intention to advocate for one-child families. In 1980, the central government organized a meeting in Chengdu to discuss the speed and scope of one-child restrictions.

United Nations

The BBC wrote the following on the State of World Population 2011, a report by UNFPA:

"The world's population is going to continue to grow and we may as well be prepared for it, " says the editor, Richard Kollodge.

"We may as well make sure that as many people as possible are healthy, that as many people as possible have access to education."

"We have a chance right now in our world of seven billion to build a more stable, more socially just world by the time we reach 10 billion but that requires us to act now," he says.

So, the UN does address this as something that is happening (not necessarily as a problem) and addresses is through education and making sure the world can deal with it as best it can.

  • In both cases you consider, population size is a subject of concern for social issues, not from a climate change perspective. – Evargalo Feb 13 at 16:02
  • @Evargalo while the title may suggest an interest in climate change only, the body of the question also mentions other effects like poverty. I think the examples in my answers do fit that. – JJJ Feb 13 at 16:08
  • @JJJ well, my question was really just in context of climate change, even though I mentioned other effects in the message body. I've upvoted anyway, since I think it's an interesting answer, that doesn't deserve a downvote. – user25043 Feb 13 at 16:14