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Global Population Speak Out The Global Grassroots Talks Population

January 20, 2010

Washington DC – Several hundred environmental scientists, journalists and academics from around the world will publicly speak out in February about the fundamental relationship between human population and environmental sustainability.

A month-long "global grassroots initiative", the Global Population Speak Out is organized by the Washington D.C. based international non-profit organization, Population Institute.

"We are promoting a new and responsible global discussion -- one that recognizes a healthy and stable population is a prerequisite of global sustainability," says Bill Ryerson, President of the Population Institute.

Endorsed by high profile scientists and celebrities such as Paul Ehrlich, Dennis Meadows and Alexandra Paul, the Global Population Speak Out (GPSO) is specifically designed to challenge the taboo against discussing population in the context of environmental protection and stewardship. GPSO participants will give lectures and speeches, engage in media interviews, and author research and opinion pieces among other activities.

"Over the past year, we've noticed more and more people embracing population as an approachable, safe issue to discuss," says Ryerson. "We are providing them with a platform to do so thoughtfully, respectfully and effectively.

"On the other hand, many vested interests continue to see population growth as an essential ingredient of global economic expansion. It is in their self-interest to discount the negative effects of population growth and to personally attack sustainability activists who bring the population issue up."

By creating a global network of like-minded individuals, the Global Population Speak Out provides facts from a wide range of experts to counter reactionary cries of protest that population discussions often provoke. High profile GPSO participants currently include the President of the European Section of the Society for Conservation Biology; the Director of Conservation for the African Conservation Foundation; and, Safari Club International's 2007 International Conservationist of the Year.

Robert Walker, Executive Vice President of the Population Institute, adds that "In a world threatened by climate change, species extinction, environmental degradation and resource depletion, we cannot ignore the role that population growth plays, or the benefits that flow from educating and empowering women and preventing unwanted and unintended pregnancies."

In 2009, the Global Population Speak Out was covered in Science Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and The London Times Online, among others, and attracted the participation of supporters all over the world.

For more information visit:


Joe Bish
Coordinator, Global Population Speak Out

Population Institute
107 2nd Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20002
Field Office: 1-603-283-6686

Noteworthy GPSO Participants:

1.       Steven Beissinger, Ph.D., A. Starker Leopold Chair in Wildlife Biology and Professor of Conservation Biology, Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, Division of Ecosystem Sciences, University of California Berkeley

2.       Mark Boyce, Alberta Conservation Association Chair in Fisheries and Wildlife, Professor University of Alberta, Department of Biological Sciences, Safari Club International's 2007 International Conservationist of the Year

3.       Corey Bradshaw, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Aquatic Sciences, University of Adelaide and South Australian Research and Development Institute; Research Director of Marine Impacts, Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability, University of Adelaide, Australia

4.       Martin Dieterich, Ph. D., President, Society for Conservation Biology, European Section; Associate Professor, University of Hohenheim, Agricultural Sciences

5.       Ben Delbaere, Deputy Director, European Center for Nature Conservation

6.       Paul Ehrlich, Ph.D., Bing Professor of Population Studies, President, Center for Conservation Biology, Author, Department of Biology, Stanford University

7.       William Ferwerda, Director of IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) National Committee of The Netherlands

8.       Helena Frietas, Ph.D., Director of the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra, Portugal; Coordinator of the Centro de Ecologia Funcional; President of the Portuguese Ecological Society (SPECO); Vice-President of the Board of the European Ecological Federation

9.       Arend de Haas, Director of Conservation, African Conservation Foundation

10.   Stuart Pimm, Ph.D., Author; Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University; Extraordinary Professor, Conservation Ecology Research Unit, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Oregon State University:

A recent study by Oregon State University concluded: The carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of an extra child is almost 20 times more important than some of the other environmentally sensitive practices people might employ their entire lives – things like driving a high mileage car, recycling, or using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs. See Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals, by Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences/Department of Statistics, available on The authors calculate that in the US each child adds 9,441 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female, equivalent to 5.7 times her lifetime emissions.


London School of Economics:

Contraception is almost five times cheaper than conventional green technologies as a means of combating climate change, according to research published September 9, 2009.

Each $7 spent on basic family planning over the next four decades would reduce global CO2 emissions by more than a tonne. To achieve the same result with low-carbon technologies would cost a minimum of $32. The UN estimates that 40 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended. The report, Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost, commissioned by the Optimum Population Trust from the London School of Economics, concludes that "considered purely as a method of reducing future CO2 emissions," family planning is more cost-effective than leading low-carbon technologies. It says family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reduction.


Population Justice:

Inspired by the environmental justice and reproductive justice movements, population justice calls for a nuanced understanding of the relationship between human numbers and the environment. Most importantly, it urges attention to the inequalities–both gender and economic–that underlie rapid population growth. To slow population growth and build a sustainable future, women and men need access to voluntary family planning and other reproductive health services, as well as education and employment opportunities. Where family planning is available, where couples are confident their children will survive, where girls go to school, where young men and women have economic opportunity—couples will have healthier and smaller families.

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