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Population Institute Prepares for Earth Day

April 15, 2010

In observance of the 40th Earth Day, the Population Institute is launching a public education campaign that focuses on the challenges that population growth poses to the planet.  Since the first Earth Day in 1970, world population has almost doubled.  In 1970, world population was 3.7 billion. Today, it is 6.8 billion, an 84% increase. The United Nations projects that world population will reach 9.2 billion my mid-century, even if birth rates continue to decline.

Robert Walker, Executive Vice President of the Population Institute, noted that "In adding 3.1 billion people to the planet over the past four decades, we have subjected the Earth to severe environmental pressures.  Growing population and rising consumption are no longer sustainable. We are already exceeding the Earth's capacity to regenerate resources, and unless we do more to support voluntary family planning and prevent unwanted pregnancies, we put the planet and all the species that inhabit it--including humans--at great risk."

Climate change, Walker noted, is not the only problem made more difficult by the current pace of population growth.  "We face a broad array of population-related challenges.  Some of those, like energy scarcity and food insecurity, jeopardize the human condition.  Others, like fishery depletion and the growing loss of biological habitats, threaten other species." Walker warned that, "When leading biologists, like Harvard's E. O. Wilson, predict that human activity could endanger half of all plant and animal species by the end of the century or sooner, it's time for all of us to listen." 

In observance of this year's Earth Day, the Population Institute and other organizations will participate in Earth Week on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  Between April 17 and April 25, the Population Institute and the Population Media Center will operate a booth that will educate Earth Day observers about the links between population, the environment, and a sustainable world.  As part of that education effort, the Population Institute will unveil its 40th Earth Day Population Quiz.  The quiz will also be posted on the organization's website, along with video footage of what people are saying on the Mall about population and the environment. Stay tuned for more developments.

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