We Can't Grow On Like This

Picking Up the Trash Small

The Population & Environment Connection

Population growth is a core environmental issue

The world's forests, rivers, oceans, and wild creatures are perishing at the hands of people. Across the globe, wildlife habitat is being destroyed by chainsaws, bulldozers, and chronic pollution. Much of the destruction of the natural world we see across the globe today is "fallout" from the human population explosion that has occurred over the last 50 years.

The world is at a critical juncture

While fertility has fallen in many countries and regions, demographic momentum means we are now adding a near-record number of people to the world's population every year. At present fertility rates, world population could double from 6 billion to 12 billion people by 2050.

The future will be decided now

 A doubling of human population in the next 50 years is not yet a given. Over one billion teenagers are entering their most critical reproductive years. If these teenagers dramatically reduce their fertility, world population could stabilize by 2050 at far less than 12 billion.

The U.S. is not doing its part

Among the 20 leading industrialized countries, the U.S. is last when international family planning donations are counted as a percent of Gross National Product. In inflation-adjusted dollars, federal government funding for international family planning has declined by one-third since 1995.

Fast Facts

  • The population of the world was 1 billion in 1830, 2 billion in 1930, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1975, five billion in 1987, and 6 billion in 1997. Today there are over 6.2 billion people in the world, and at current birth rates the population of world could double to over 12 billion by 2060.
  • At current rates of growth we will add more people to the population of the world in the next 50 years than we did during the first 500,000 years of human history.
  • In inflation-adjusted dollars, U.S. funding for international family planning has declined by one-third since 1995. To return to the 1995 level, U.S. funding for international family planning needs to increase from $446 million (FY 2003) a year to over $725 million a year.