Most scientists agree the current level of human population, in combination with present living arrangements, is damaging our ecosystems. But doing something about overpopulation is not high on public policy lists. It’s rarely discussed in the media or over coffee with friends. Why? Population Media Center President Bill Ryerson discusses the obstacles preventing faster progress on solving the overpopulation problem, or even admitting there is one. This is the second part of an April 2017 interview. Bill Ryerson has worked…

World population passed the 7.5 billion mark in the Spring of 2017, and it could rise to 11 billion by the turn of the century. We currently add over 200,000 to the population every day. If fertility rates don't continue to drop, and we don’t suffer a “massive die-off,” that figure could be closer to 30 billion. Population Media Center President Bill Ryerson corrects misconceptions, debunks myths, and shares a variety of surprising facts about overpopulation, population growth, fertility rates and human…

What exactly are “think tanks” supposed to be thinking about? Are some of them part of a campaign to cast doubt on science when it could interfere with profits? Author Kerryn Higgs recounted the growth-seeking activities of the corporate world in her book, Collision Course: Endless Growth on a Finite Planet. Her research reveals think tanks, industry associations, and even university economics departments all play a role in advancing and preserving our society’s commitment to growth above all else, even…

How and why did our society come to value economic growth so highly that we pursue it at the risk of our long-term survival? For some time scientists have warned that human civilization is living beyond the ecological means of our planet. Yet our commitment to economic growth is unwavering. Australian writer Kerryn Higgs chronicled this triumph of denial over science in her book, Collision Course: Endless Growth on a Finite Planet. This book is impressively researched. She shares her…

We need to change the way we think if we want to extend the shelf-life of our civilization, according to Frances Moore Lappé, author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think and Diet for a Small Planet. In this 2017 conversation, Lappé explains some of the  “thought traps” to avoid in order to effectively inspire transition from what she calls our “economy of destruction.” She also explains how democracy is much more than just a form of government; it is…

We’re not living on Earth as if we want to stay, observes Mike Nickerson. In our last episode, Mike Nickerson shared his vision for, and the joy of, making the cultural shift necessary for a sustainable human civilization. In this continuation of the conversation, we explore some of the forces keeping our system stuck in an unsustainable mode. Nickerson leads the Sustainability Project/7th Generation Initiative in Canada, a non-profit organization that collects, studies, develops and teaches ideas, information, technologies and…

“We could be having so much fun that there just isn't time to consume resources on a quantity, or produce waste on a quantity that would be problematic for the planet,” according Mike Nickerson. He shares his ideas about how enjoyable it could be to make the cultural shift necessary for human civilization to be sustainable. Mike Nickerson has spent his career advancing sustainability. In the 1970s he founded and co-directed the Institute for the Study of Cultural Evolution. Today…

Efforts to date are falling far short of achieving the greenhouse gas reduction needed to avoid catastrophic climate disruption. Bioethicist Travis Rieder shakes things up by suggesting ethical use of public policy to encourage smaller families, which would result in dramatic decrease of carbon emissions. Rieder co-authored the paper, Population Engineering and the Fight Against Climate Change. In part two of this 2017 conversation, Rieder shares how he and co-authors Colin Hickey and Jake Earl parsed out what fertility reduction…

With human activity disrupting the climate, do we have a moral imperative not to have children, or to have only one child? Bioethicist Travis Rieder dares to explore this bold question with sensitivity and scientific rigor. Rieder shares his logic in the short book, Toward a Small Family Ethic: How Overpopulation and Climate Change are Affecting the Morality of Procreation. It starts with the fact that deciding not to have one child is over 20 times more effective at reducing…

How can policymakers be persuaded to abandon the most widespread public policy goal on Earth? In our last episode, Brian Czech explained that economic growth cannot be sustained perpetually on a finite planet. This episode continues that conversation with the conservation biologist and economics expert. Here, he explains why pro-growth economists proliferate, and offers his prescription for making the shift to a steady state economy. Brian Czech is founder and president of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady…

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