Finally, someone in the mainstream is talking about Earth’s population problem. Talk falls short of action, of course, and it’s unlikely anyone with power will listen. But nevertheless the world’s leading scientists warned at the Rio+20 Earth Summit on Thursday that unchecked population growth and overconsumption could be civilization’s undoing.
The global population is expected to be between 8 billion and 11 billion by 2050, and growing middle classes in developing countries and the extravagance of the rich will ensure that the ecosystems that support human life continue to degrade.
Rich countries need to reduce or radically transform unsustainable lifestyles, while greater efforts should be made to provide contraception to those who want it in the developing world, the coalition of 105 institutions, including the Royal Society, urged in a joint report.
… The authors point out that while the Rio summit aims to reduce poverty and reverse the degradation of the environment, it barely mentions the two solutions that could ease pressure on increasingly scarce resources.
Many in the scientific community believe it is time to confront these elephants in the room. “For too long population and consumption have been left off the table due to political and ethical sensitivities. These are issues that affect developed and developing nations alike, and we must take responsibility for them together,” said Charles Godfray, a fellow of the Royal Society and chair of the working group of IAP, the global network of science academies.