It's Not Fertility That Counts

Halloween may mark the world reaching 7 billion. Population author Vanessa Baird looks beyond the number into both fertility and consumption rates, showing why it is a mistake to get caught up with the increase in population rather than consumption.

"Today, according to the UN's population division, 42% of the world's population lives in countries with fertility at below replacement level. Another 40% are in intermediate fertility countries, where people are replacing themselves. And the remaining 18% are living in countries with high fertility, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where women may be having five or more children on average."

However, according to Baird, the consumption rate of one American or European may be the equivalent of an entire village of Africans.

Nor does Baird target the low population increase in the developed nations as a means to reduce emissions.

"Population is certainly a multiplier, but that does not make it the cause of the problem. As (Green Left Weekly) writer Simon Butler puts it: "People are not pollution. Blaming too many people for driving climate change is like blaming too many trees for causing bushfires."

Instead, she advocates for low-emission policies - transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables and from the single-occupant vehicle to low or zero-polluting modes.

"The excessive focus on population is a dangerous distraction from the core problem, which is not how many of us there are but how we use the planet and share its resources."

Thanks to Patricia Matachek

Full Story: Why population hysteria is more damaging than it seems



It's population and consumption

What you have to ask is what kind of standard of living you want the average person to have. If you want everyone in the world to live at the current US standard, you could support fewer than 2 billion people. If everyone were to live at the standard of living of, say, Mumbai, then you could support around 20 billion (

So yes, population is a problem that has to be addressed if everyone on the planet is going to have a decent standard of living. It's naive to think that sustainability can be achieved through a reduction in per capita consumption alone.

Population, consumption and wealth.

It's naive to think that sustainability can be achieved through a reduction in per capita consumption alone.

Yes, exactly:

I = P x A x T

And some years ago now E.O. Wilson stated the 'sustainable' population of Earth at U.S. and Japan's consumption was ~200 million.



Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.
Book cover of Unsprawl

Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places

Explore visionary, controversial and ultimately successful strategies for building people-centered places.
Starting at $12.95

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.