Important links on overpopulation
Brian McGavin

Tim Murray

Brishen Hoff

Why the demise of civilisation may be inevitable
Contemplating the demise of civilization is not for the faint of heart.  At least it is fair to say we live in interesting times.

DOOMSDAY. The end of civilisation. Literature and film abound with tales of plague, famine and wars which ravage the planet, leaving a few survivors scratching out a primitive existence amid the ruins. Every civilisation in history has collapsed, after all. Why should ours be any different?
Doomsday scenarios typically feature a knockout blow: a massive asteroid, all-out nuclear war or a catastrophic pandemic (see "Will a pandemic bring down civilisation?"). Yet there is another chilling possibility: what if the very nature of civilisation means that ours, like all the others, is destined to collapse sooner or later?
A few researchers have been making such claims for years. Disturbingly, recent insights from fields such as complexity theory suggest that they are right. It appears that once a society develops beyond a certain level of complexity it becomes increasingly fragile. Eventually, it reaches a point at which even a relatively minor disturbance can bring everything crashing down.
Some say we have already reached this point, and that it is time to start thinking about how we might manage collapse. Others insist it is not yet too late, and that we can - we must - act now to keep disaster at bay.

Environmental mismanagement
History is not on our side. Think of Sumeria, of ancient Egypt and of the Maya. In his 2005 best-seller Collapse, Jared Diamond of the University of California, Los Angeles, blamed environmental mismanagement for the fall of the Mayan civilisation and others, and warned that we might be heading the same way unless we choose to stop destroying our environmental support systems.
Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington DC agrees. He has long argued that governments must pay more attention to vital environmental resources. "It's not about saving the planet. It's about saving civilisation," he says.
Others think our problems run deeper. From the moment our ancestors started to settle down and build cities, we have had to find solutions to the problems that success brings. "For the past 10,000 years, problem solving has produced increasing complexity in human societies," says Joseph Tainter, an archaeologist at Utah State University, Logan, and author of the 1988 book The Collapse of Complex Societies.
If crops fail because rain is patchy, build irrigation canals. When they silt up, organise dredging crews. When the bigger crop yields lead to a bigger population, build more canals. When there are too many for ad hoc repairs, install a management bureaucracy, and tax people to pay for it. When they complain, invent tax inspectors and a system to record the sums paid. That much the Sumerians knew.

Diminishing returns
There is, however, a price to be paid. Every extra layer of organisation imposes a cost in terms of energy, the common currency of all human efforts, from building canals to educating scribes. And increasing complexity, Tainter realised, produces diminishing returns. The extra food produced by each extra hour of labour - or joule of energy invested per farmed hectare - diminishes as that investment mounts. We see the same thing today in a declining number of patents per dollar invested in research as that research investment mounts. This law of diminishing returns appears everywhere, Tainter says.
To keep growing, societies must keep solving problems as they arise. Yet each problem solved means more complexity. Success generates a larger population, more kinds of specialists, more resources to manage, more information to juggle - and, ultimately, less bang for your buck.
Eventually, says Tainter, the point is reached when all the energy and resources available to a society are required just to maintain its existing level of complexity. Then when the climate changes or barbarians invade, overstretched institutions break down and civil order collapses. What emerges is a less complex society, which is organised on a smaller scale or has been taken over by another group.
Tainter sees diminishing returns as the underlying reason for the collapse of all ancient civilisations, from the early Chinese dynasties to the Greek city state of Mycenae. These civilisations relied on the solar energy that could be harvested from food, fodder and wood, and from wind. When this had been stretched to its limit, things fell apart.

An ineluctable process
Western industrial civilisation has become bigger and more complex than any before it by exploiting new sources of energy, notably coal and oil, but these are limited. There are increasing signs of diminishing returns: the energy required to get each new joule of oil is mounting and although global food production is still increasing, constant innovation is needed to cope with environmental degradation and evolving pests and diseases - the yield boosts per unit of investment in innovation are shrinking. "Since problems are inevitable," Tainter warns, "this process is in part ineluctable."
Is Tainter right? An analysis of complex systems has led Yaneer Bar-Yam, head of the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the same conclusion that Tainter reached from studying history. Social organisations become steadily more complex as they are required to deal both with environmental problems and with challenges from neighbouring societies that are also becoming more complex, Bar-Yam says. This eventually leads to a fundamental shift in the way the society is organised.
"To run a hierarchy, managers cannot be less complex than the system they are managing," Bar-Yam says. As complexity increases, societies add ever more layers of management but, ultimately in a hierarchy, one individual has to try and get their head around the whole thing, and this starts to become impossible. At that point, hierarchies give way to networks in which decision-making is distributed. We are at this point.
This shift to decentralised networks has led to a widespread belief that modern society is more resilient than the old hierarchical systems. "I don't foresee a collapse in society because of increased complexity," says futurologist and industry consultant Ray Hammond. "Our strength is in our highly distributed decision making." This, he says, makes modern western societies more resilient than those like the old Soviet Union, in which decision making was centralised.

Increasing connectedness
Things are not that simple, says Thomas Homer-Dixon, a political scientist at the University of Toronto, Canada, and author of the 2006 book The Upside of Down. "Initially, increasing connectedness and diversity helps: if one village has a crop failure, it can get food from another village that didn't."
As connections increase, though, networked systems become increasingly tightly coupled. This means the impacts of failures can propagate: the more closely those two villages come to depend on each other, the more both will suffer if either has a problem. "Complexity leads to higher vulnerability in some ways," says Bar-Yam. "This is not widely understood."
The reason is that as networks become ever tighter, they start to transmit shocks rather than absorb them. "The intricate networks that tightly connect us together - and move people, materials, information, money and energy - amplify and transmit any shock," says Homer-Dixon. "A financial crisis, a terrorist attack or a disease outbreak has almost instant destabilising effects, from one side of the world to the other."
For instance, in 2003 large areas of North America and Europe suffered blackouts when apparently insignificant nodes of their respective electricity grids failed. And this year China suffered a similar blackout after heavy snow hit power lines. Tightly coupled networks like these create the potential for propagating failure across many critical industries, says Charles Perrow of Yale University, a leading authority on industrial accidents and disasters.

Credit crunch
Perrow says interconnectedness in the global production system has now reached the point where "a breakdown anywhere increasingly means a breakdown everywhere". This is especially true of the world's financial systems, where the coupling is very tight. "Now we have a debt crisis with the biggest player, the US. The consequences could be enormous."
"A networked society behaves like a multicellular organism," says Bar-Yam, "random damage is like lopping a chunk off a sheep." Whether or not the sheep survives depends on which chunk is lost. And while we are pretty sure which chunks a sheep needs, it isn't clear - it may not even be predictable - which chunks of our densely networked civilisation are critical, until it's too late.
"When we do the analysis, almost any part is critical if you lose enough of it," says Bar-Yam. "Now that we can ask questions of such systems in more sophisticated ways, we are discovering that they can be very vulnerable. That means civilisation is very vulnerable."
So what can we do? "The key issue is really whether we respond successfully in the face of the new vulnerabilities we have," Bar-Yam says. That means making sure our "global sheep" does not get injured in the first place - something that may be hard to guarantee as the climate shifts and the world's fuel and mineral resources dwindle.

Tightly coupled system
Scientists in other fields are also warning that complex systems are prone to collapse. Similar ideas have emerged from the study of natural cycles in ecosystems, based on the work of ecologist Buzz Holling, now at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Some ecosystems become steadily more complex over time: as a patch of new forest grows and matures, specialist species may replace more generalist species, biomass builds up and the trees, beetles and bacteria form an increasingly rigid and ever more tightly coupled system.
"It becomes an extremely efficient system for remaining constant in the face of the normal range of conditions," says Homer-Dixon. But unusual conditions - an insect outbreak, fire or drought - can trigger dramatic changes as the impact cascades through the system. The end result may be the collapse of the old ecosystem and its replacement by a newer, simpler one.
Globalisation is resulting in the same tight coupling and fine-tuning of our systems to a narrow range of conditions, he says. Redundancy is being systematically eliminated as companies maximise profits. Some products are produced by only one factory worldwide. Financially, it makes sense, as mass production maximises efficiency. Unfortunately, it also minimises resilience. "We need to be more selective about increasing the connectivity and speed of our critical systems," says Homer-Dixon. "Sometimes the costs outweigh the benefits."
Is there an alternative? Could we heed these warnings and start carefully climbing back down the complexity ladder? Tainter knows of only one civilisation that managed to decline but not fall. "After the Byzantine empire lost most of its territory to the Arabs, they simplified their entire society. Cities mostly disappeared, literacy and numeracy declined, their economy became less monetised, and they switched from professional army to peasant militia."

Staving off collapse
Pulling off the same trick will be harder for our more advanced society. Nevertheless, Homer-Dixon thinks we should be taking action now. "First, we need to encourage distributed and decentralised production of vital goods like energy and food," he says. "Second, we need to remember that slack isn't always waste. A manufacturing company with a large inventory may lose some money on warehousing, but it can keep running even if its suppliers are temporarily out of action."
The electricity industry in the US has already started identifying hubs in the grid with no redundancy available and is putting some back in, Homer-Dixon points out. Governments could encourage other sectors to follow suit. The trouble is that in a world of fierce competition, private companies will always increase efficiency unless governments subsidise inefficiency in the public interest.
Homer-Dixon doubts we can stave off collapse completely. He points to what he calls "tectonic" stresses that will shove our rigid, tightly coupled system outside the range of conditions it is becoming ever more finely tuned to. These include population growth, the growing divide between the world's rich and poor, financial instability, weapons proliferation, disappearing forests and fisheries, and climate change. In imposing new complex solutions we will run into the problem of diminishing returns - just as we are running out of cheap and plentiful energy.
"This is the fundamental challenge humankind faces. We need to allow for the healthy breakdown in natural function in our societies in a way that doesn't produce catastrophic collapse, but instead leads to healthy renewal," Homer-Dixon says. This is what happens in forests, which are a patchy mix of old growth and newer areas created by disease or fire. If the ecosystem in one patch collapses, it is recolonised and renewed by younger forest elsewhere. We must allow partial breakdown here and there, followed by renewal, he says, rather than trying so hard to avert breakdown by increasing complexity that any resulting crisis is actually worse.

Tipping points
Lester Brown thinks we are fast running out of time. "The world can no longer afford to waste a day. We need a Great Mobilisation, as we had in wartime," he says. "There has been tremendous progress in just the past few years. For the first time, I am starting to see how an alternative economy might emerge. But it's now a race between tipping points - which will come first, a switch to sustainable technology, or collapse?"
Tainter is not convinced that even new technology will save civilisation in the long run. "I sometimes think of this as a 'faith-based' approach to the future," he says. Even a society reinvigorated by cheap new energy sources will eventually face the problem of diminishing returns once more. Innovation itself might be subject to diminishing returns, or perhaps absolute limits.
Studies of the way cities grow by Luis Bettencourt of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, support this idea. His team's work suggests that an ever-faster rate of innovation is required to keep cities growing and prevent stagnation or collapse, and in the long run this cannot be sustainable.
The stakes are high. Historically, collapse always led to a fall in population. "Today's population levels depend on fossil fuels and industrial agriculture," says Tainter. "Take those away and there would be a reduction in the Earth's population that is too gruesome to think about."
If industrialised civilisation does fall, the urban masses - half the world's population - will be most vulnerable. Much of our hard-won knowledge could be lost, too. "The people with the least to lose are subsistence farmers," Bar-Yam observes, and for some who survive, conditions might actually improve. Perhaps the meek really will inherit the Earth.

Steve Kurtz

Read the companion article about

Related Articles
Could a pandemic bring down civilisation?

05 April 2008: From issue 2650 of New Scientist magazine, 02 April 2008, page 32-35

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Quotes on over population

"Slower global population growth will relieve pressure on the environment and other problems and grant time to find solutions. There are many actions that must be taken to alleviate poverty, improve food supply, end malnutrition, and provide adequate housing. The first is to achieve balanced population growth..."
Nafis Sadik, M.D.Under Secretary
General United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

"Creation destroys as it goes, throws down one tree for the rise of another. But ideal mankind would abolish death, multiply itself million upon million, rear up city upon city, save every parasite alive, until the accumulation of mere existence is swollen to a horror..."
D.H. Lawrence 1885-1930from: St Mawr 1925

"Second Theorem: The utterly dismal theorem. This theorem states that any technical improvement can only relieve misery for a while, for so long as misery is the only check on population, the [ technical ] improvement will enable population to grow, and will soon enable more people to live in misery than before. The final result of [ technical ] improvements, therefore, i to increase the equilibrium population which is to increase the total sum of human misery..."
Kenneth Boulding 1971, Collected Papers, Vol. II

Publications from Assisi Nature Council

Active expressive participatory Environmental Education with Young Children, Ray Lorenzo, Assisi Nature Council library of Environmental education and Ethics, Assisi, 1987( reviewed 2007).

Sacred Spaces : beyond the concept of resources' exploitation, Conference Report 1992.

Towards the Third Millennium, Document of the International Seminar "Terra Mater", Gubbio 1992.

Un Giardino dei Semplici , Maria Luisa Cohen, Domizia Donnini and the School S.Antonio, Assisi Nature Council, Library of Environmental education and Ethics.

Manifesto for Gardens of the Third Millennium, Assisi 1998. (featured in the website)

International Conference: Gardens for the Third Millennium, from the Garden of Eden to Urban Paradise, Assisi 1998, Perugia University Press, 2000.

Simbolismo delle piante e giardini, by Maria Luisa Cohen, Assisi Nature Council Library of Environmental Education and Ethics 2006

Analisi Botanica di un Territorio collinare finalizzata alla realizzazione di un giardino per le farfalle diurne, Università degli Studi di Perugia, Corso di Laurea in science Naturali, Daniela Deminco e Daniela Gigante, 2004/2005 (featured in the website)

Utilizzo gastronomico delle piante selvatiche mediterranee del Monte Subasio, by Maria Luisa Cohen, Library of Environmental Education and Ethics 2006

To purchase please contact us by e-mail:

ENS World News


Google Alert on "Peak Oil"

Links on overpopulation
Our most important reference is:

The Optimum Population Trust UK
with which we wish to develop closer relation and exchange projects

Earth Policy Institute

ECO - The Campaign for Political Ecology

EcoFuture, Dedicated to sustainability and the ecological future of our planet


EnviroLink Network(An on-line information resource on environmental issuess)

National Audubon Society's Population & Habitat Campaign,
Supports voluntary family planning as a key element in conserving and restoring natural ecosystems.

People and the Planet

Popline, the world's largest bibliographic database on population, family planning, and related health issues

Population Action International

Population Connection

Population Growth over Human History

Population Media Center

Population Reference Bureau

Sustainable Population Australia

UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

UN Population Information Network (POPIN):

Union of Concerned Scientists, working for a healthy environment and a safer world.

Worldwatch Institute

World Overpopulation Awareness (WOA)

World Population Clock

Butterflies links


'Hill House Publishers (Melbourne & London) publishers of fine books in
Natural History and science, authentic facsimiles of antiquarian works, maps and prints.

Butterflies of North America
The U.S. Geological Survey's guide to the butterflies of the US and northern Mexico, including a photographic identification guide, county checklists, and more.

Monarch Watch
A website dedicated to the study of the monarch butterfly and its yearly migration.

Where Do Butterflies Come From?
A simple guide from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, including a fun project for kids.

Butterflies and Moths
Searchable database of generic names and type species. From The Natural History Museum, London.

NBII Children's Butterfly Site
Kids can learn all about butterflies and moths at this site. It includes a coloring page with the life cycle of the Monarch, and a gallery of pictures.

Yukon Butterflies - butterfly activities and lessons
Watch an on-line metamorphosis and learn about the life-cycle of the Painted Lady Butterfly. Developed by Yukon Grade three classes complete with activities.... projects/butterflies/observations/webcam/index.html

Butterfly Pavilion & Insect Center(Colorado)
At our 30,000 square foot facility, 250,000 people a year (including 35,000 children), explore a tropical rainforest with 1,200 free flying butterflies, hold a friendly tarantula and enjoy a hands-on experience of the world of invertebrates.

What is a Butterfly? -- A comprehensive on-line hypertext book about butterflies. It is designed for people of all ages and levels of comprehension. subjects/butterflies/allabout

Field Museum Butterfly Collection -- A well-crafted guidebookwith common questions and answers.

Missouri Botanical Garden Butterfly House -- Garden in St. Louis renowned for its fundamental botanical research, horticultural displays and education programs.
Includes a butterfly house. Bug Bios
A butterfly wing pattern module of Class Insecta!

& more:

Adopt-An-Insect Project, was developed to explore the world of insects at Havana Junior High School.
The project pages includes procedures, objectives, lesson plans, and an assortment of links.

Butterfly World's Bring Back the Butterflies campaign is a North American effort to help people bring large numbers of butterflies back to our landscape. It is a call for people across the Continental United States and Canada to build a small garden in an effort to reverse the ongoing destruction of butterfly habitat in their local area.

Butterfly Gardening, your guide to creating and maintaining a backyard wildlife habitat.

Butterfly Gardening 
A butterfly garden is an easy way to both see more butterflies and to contribute towards their conservation, since many natural butterfly habitats have been lost to urbanization and other development…

Captain’s European Butterfly Guide: There are approximately 440 species of Butterfly in Europe and North Africa. I have seen but a small part of them but hope eventually to come across most of them and perhaps include them in these pages, currently there are 263 species included.

The Swallowtail Butterfly in Italy,The Queen Butterfly of Italian Gardens: One of the most spectacular sights in Italian gardens has to be the European swallowtail butterfly flitting, effortlessly over lavender, buddleja, valerian or any other nectar-providing flower…

HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants, Natural History Museum, brings together an enormous body of information on what the world's butterfly and mth (Lepidoptera) caterpillars eat.

Some documents links related to overpopulation
The subject of overpopulation and its consequences on the environment and on our lives are confined to the rarified sphere of academia , research institutes , world institutions and the internet, while its wider dissemination in the public media and therefore in the people’s consciousness, is missing.

We aim at correcting such mysterious absence from the public debate, presenting here some articles and documentation regarding what we consider one of the most important issues of our time, overpopulation.

Reconsidering population growth
A round-table discussion on the economic, financial and environmental implications of over-population.
Optimum Population Trust, London 15 February 2006
The prospect of population decline: environmental relief or economic threat?
D.A. Coleman University of Oxford

"Science Summit" On World Population
A Joint Statement by 58 of the World's Scientific Academies

Population and Its Discontents
Vision for a Sustainable World
Excerpted from the September/October 2004 WORLDWATCH magazine
Special online feature on population at

Global and Local Solutions to Population Growth

Population size 'Green priority'
By Richard Black
Environment Correspondent, BBC News website
Solving the Earth's environmental problems means addressing the size of its human population, says the head of the UK's Antarctic research agency.

The Fewer the Better
David Nicholson-Lord
8 November 2004-New Statesman.

Peak Oil, Carrying Capacity and Overshoot:
Population, the Elephant in the Room.
What Drives Population - Food or Energy?
Population Decline - Red Herrings and Hope
By Paul Chefurka:

From The Life And Death Of Nssm 200
How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy

Overpopulation & Terrorism: Rats In A Cage
by John Omaha

Implying That 6.5 Billion Is Sustainable?
Birth rates 'must be curbed to win war on global poverty'
31 January 2007

See also:

to the Congress on Problems of Population Growth," July 18, 1969, entitled "World Population, A Challenge to the United Nations and Its System of Agencies."

on nearly 50 areas of policy and action, including sex education, equal rights for women, contraception and minors, voluntary sterilization, abortion, and population stabilization.

Online Videos

Arithmetic, Population and Energy
By Dr. Albert Bartlett. Both video and MP3 available.

Professor Bartlett lectures regularly to a wide variety of audiences from coast to coast on the topics such as “Sustainability 101: Arithmetic, Population, and Energy.”
In 37 years he has given this lecture over 1600 times.

A one-hour DVD of this lecture is available from the General Book Department of the University of Colorado Bookstore, Campus Box 36
Boulder, Colorado, 80309-0036; Phone (303) 492-7599; FAX (303) 492-0420; 
Price: $12 plus $7.50 for shipping and handling.
(Prof. Bartlett accepts no royalties from the sales of these DVDs.)
A reprint book of Prof. Bartlett’s papers on the subjects of growth and sustainability is available.
“The Essential Exponential” (2004)
A.A. Bartlett, R.G. Fuller, V.L.P. Clark, J. Rogers
Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, 68588-0131
(402) 472-9304,
(Prof. Bartlett accepts no royalties from the sale of these books.)

6.6 Billion and Counting on
6.6 Billion and Counting

The human population is now more than 6.6 billion, and each year 78 million more people are added to that number. When will the world be ready to acknowledge the importance of this issue?

In our special fall campaign, we at the Worldwatch Institute are raising $30,000 to expand the breadth and scope of our work on reproductive health and population. We have eight days to raise enough money to call attention to what many of you have called "the elephant in the room."

Continued growth in human numbers is greatly complicating efforts to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases. It also contributes to a lack of clean water, exploited natural resources, and high proportions of young people who lack meaningful prospects in countries with rapidly growing populations.

Your contribution of $35, $50, $100, $250, or more will make this critical work possible.

While many other organizations shy away from the subject, Worldwatch is working to bring attention to the population issue in sensitive and constructive ways. For example, many leaders still don't understand that as many as two in five pregnancies worldwide aren't intended or welcomed—a problem that can be addressed with education and the provision of basic reproductive health services. But we need your help! Your contribution of $35, $50, $100, $250, or more will make this critical work possible.

You will get the biggest bang for your buck. Three generous Friends of Worldwatch have pledged a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $15,000, so your gift will have twice the impact!

If population is such a serious issue, why isn't every mainstream environmental organization talking about it?

Since its founding just four years after the first Earth Day in 1970, Worldwatch has presented human population as a critical force to be understood and addressed in building sustainable societies. Over the past seven years, the U.S. government has reduced its support of international family planning, heightening the need for organizations like Worldwatch to tackle this critical issue.

The Institute's focus on population—rare among environmental groups and unique within environmental research—has been expressed in our books, Worldwatch Papers, State of the World chapters, and even in the hiring of specific researchers dedicated to the topic. While we haven't focused on population as much as we'd like to in recent years, we want to change that.

But we can only do it with your help. Your voice is crucial in setting the agenda for our research. Let us know how much you care about this issue by making a gift today.

Can I count on you?


Christopher Flavin

More on

Optimum Population Trust
Optimum Population Trust

July 11 2007


Governments may be forced to introduce compulsory limits to family size if urgent action is not taken to restrain population growth through voluntary family planning, according to a report published today, World Population Day (Wednesday, July 11).
One-child policies, such as that now operating in China, are generally counter-productive and liable to discount human rights, the report says. But “in extreme situations, where states or regions may be almost uninhabitable through environmental damage, [they] may become unavoidable.”

The report, Youthquake, published by the Optimum Population Trust and written by Prof. John Guillebaud, a leading authority on family planning, points out that voluntary population stabilisation programmes, centring on education, awareness and removing the barriers to women’s control of their own fertility, have a proven record of success. A voluntary “two-child” population policy in Iran, for example, succeeded in halving fertility in eight years, as fast a rate of decrease as that of China, whose much-criticised one-child policy began in 1980.

However, worldwide there is still a “vast unmet need” for contraception. About 50 million of the roughly 190 million pregnancies worldwide each year end in abortions, half of the 380 women who become pregnant each minute did not plan to do so and at least 35 per cent of the estimated 550,000 women who die each year through abortions or childbirth are being killed by pregnancies they would have avoided if contraception had been available.

The report says the planet faces the biggest generation of young people in history – a “youthquake” with major social implications, “not least the creation of a huge cohort of young urban males who, through frustration and unemployment…seek an outlet in violence.”

A combination of high population and rising consumption levels means that humanity is currently outstripping the biological capacity of the Earth by 25 per cent each year. By 2050, when global population is projected to be 9.2 billion – an increase of 2.5 billion on today’s 6.7 billion - humans will be using the biocapacity of two Earths.

“Given that another habitable planet is not available, might humanity have to suffer the kind of death-dictated control to achieve stabilisation, or reduction by a “population crash” – a massive cull through violence, disease, starvation or natural disasters – which biology dictates for all other species when their numbers exceed the limits of their environment’s carrying capacity?
“Without action, longages of humans – the prime cause of all shortages of resources – may cause parts of the planet to become uninhabitable, with governments pushed towards coercive population control measures as a regrettable but lesser evil than unprecedented conflict and suffering.”
The report adds: “The continued inadequate resourcing of the voluntary approach [to population stabilisation] is arguably the best way to ensure that many more future governments will be forced, as they will then see it, through population pressure, to legislate for coercive birth control.”

Commenting on the report, Professor Guillebaud said: “No one is in favour of governments dictating family size but we need to act quickly to prevent it. Worldwide as this century progresses, those who continue to place obstacles in the way of women who want to control their fertility will have only themselves to blame, as more and more regimes bring in coercive measures. Despite the catastrophic current increase of an extra 1.5 million humans per week, there is still a slim chance that such measures can be avoided.”

Among other conclusions are:

*Every country, including the UK, needs a national population policy.

* A “stop at two children” (“replacement” level) or “have one child less” guideline for couples in the UK should be introduced by the Government, backed by schools, the media and environmental groups.

* New guidelines should be introduced for the portrayal of fertility issues by the media, aimed at countering the glamorisation of sex and stressing the responsibilities and frequent “sheer drudgery” of motherhood. Story-lines could demonstrate how teenage motherhood blights educational and earning prospects.

* A major new study is needed in the UK of the “perverse incentives” that lead some teenage girls to become pregnant. Britain’s record on teenage pregnancy is the worst in Europe while the performance of the NHS in this area has been “disastrous” and a “calamity.”

*Economic and political pressures to increase the birth rate are “hopelessly simplistic” and should be resisted. “Far from panicking about ‘baby shortages’, almost every country can welcome fertility rates at or slightly below replacement level.”


The full report is available on the OPT’s website at .

John Guillebaud is emeritus professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College, London, and co-chair of the Optimum Population Trust.

Optimum Population Trust, 12 Meadowgate, Urmston, Manchester M41 9LB, UK
Tel: 07976-370 221    email:


Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
Thu Aug 30, 5:27 PM ET

VIENNA (Reuters)
China says its one-child policy has helped the fight against global warming by avoiding 300 million births, the equivalent of the population of the United States.

See Full Report on

MANIFESTO On Gardens for the Third Millennium
MANIFESTO On Gardens for the Third Millennium

Assisi Nature Council International Conference:
Gardens for the Third Millennium: From the Garden of Eden to Urban Paradise
Assisi 15/18 October 1998 First European Conference on the protection of urban green spaces and their promotion as assets for human well-being and for the conservation of cultural and biological diversity

Pdf Documents on the Butterfly Campain
Università degli studi di perugia
Facoltà di Scienze Matematiche, Fisiche e naturali, corso di Laurea in Scienze Naturali.
Tesi di laurea sperimentale in fitosociologia analisi botanica di un territorio collinare finalizzata alla realizzazione di un giardino per le farfalle diurne

DOWNLOAD: TesiDeminco_Giardino.pdf

biodiversity projects
from the biodiversity project’s getting on message: making the biodiversity-sprawl connection


Sustainable tourism and the environment
by Assisi Nature Council
Sustainable tourism and the environment, Unesco international science, technology & environmental education newsletter

Pdf Documents on Garden
Botanic Gardens: A Tribute to the Role of Beauty in Conservation of our Plant Heritage
by Maria Luisa Cohen, for BGCI.

Article 1- Botanic Gardens.pdf

Botany and Gardens
Anthony Lyman-Dixon, of Arne Herbs; British Herb Trade Assoc.
Paper presented at the "Herb Wekend in a Herb Garden"

Article 2- Hortusus Conclussus.pdf

Giardino dei semplici medieval herb garden list of plants
by Marisa Cohen

Article 3- List of plants.pdf

Pdf Documents ethics & Education
Children's contribution to Adult's environmental education
by Marisa Cohen
DOWNLOAD: Doc 5 - Education.pdf

A quasi-complete bibliography of reference books on ethics theories:
DOWNLOAD: Ethics_bibliography.pdf

Some introductory articles on environmental ethics and
DOWNLOAD: Doc 2 - Ethics_Articles on Sustainable economics.pdf

Pdf Documents on Overpopulation
by David Pimentel

DOWNLOAD: Doc1_Gigadeath.pdf

by Russel Hofenberg and David Pimentel


Johannesburg 2002

DOWNLOAD: Johannesburg appeal.pdf
Earth Charter
Pdf link of the document:

Earth Charter Strategy 2001-2002

DOWNLOAD: Doc3_Earth Charter.pdf