I offer these articles, books and information sources to document some of the things I say in the videos I will be putting up soon on the YouTube website and also to provide more detail for interested readers and viewers. I will add to this as time permits and circumstances warrant.
The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution and protection
by S.L. Pimm, C.N. Jenkins, R. Abell, J.L. Gittleman, L.N. Joppa, P.H. Rosen, E.M. Roberts and J.D. Sexton
Science Magazine 30 May 2014, available for free with registration and also from other sources on the internet
This article asks how many species there are, and how many there might be that are undescribed. It compares the sizes of the geographic ranges of different species and how this affects their vulnerability to extinction. It compares current rates of extinction in recent times with the background rates from evolution. It states that human population growth and increases in consumption are the main drivers of the extinction of species.
Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines
by Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Rodolfo Dirzo
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences July 16, 2017
This article says that the Sixth Mass Extinction of other species of life is more severe than perceived when looking only at species extinctions. It looks at the extensive range contractions and population losses among terrestrial vertebrates and among mammalian species in the period 1900 to 2015. The population losses among these species are extremely high but have not necessarily put them yet in the endangered category. These population losses will have cascading effects on the ecosystem functioning that humanity depends on. Humanity need to addresss this problem now.
Underestimating the challenges of avoiding a ghastly future
by Corey J.A. Bradshaw, Paul R. Ehrlich, Andrew Beattie, Gerardo Ceballos, Eileen Crist, Joan Diamond, Rodolfo Dirzo, Anne H. Ehrlich, John Harte, Mary Ellen Harte, Graham Pyke, Peter H. Raven, William J. Ripple, Frederick Saltre, Christine Turnball, Matthis Wackernagel, and Daniel T. Blumstein
Frontiers in Conservation Science
13 January 2021
This article focuses on biodiversity loss, climate disruption and human population growth and consumption trends as extreme threats to the human future and the future of life that most people do not understand or appreciate. It also describes the failure of political responses to these problems.
The biomass distribution on Earth
by Yinon M. Bar-Om, Rob Philips, and Ron Milo
This article presents a census of the biomass of different categories of life on Earth. It says that the biomass of humans and their livestock is much greater than that of wild mammals and wild birds.
Living Planet Report 2022
This is the most recent of a series of reports issued by the World Wildlife Fund every two years since 1998 on the loss of populations of species since 1970. While this report, and the ones before it describe these losses with great accuracy, it fails to adequately describe the underlying causes of these population losses, human population growth and economic growth. Amazingly, it suggests that more of the same of what has already failed, “traditional conservation and restoration,” will solve this problem.
More Like a Dying Planet Report
This article critiques the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report of 2022 and its failure to describe population growth and economic growth as the underlying causes of wildlife and biodiversity loss. It also describes the flaws in the ethical reasoning involved.
Living Planet Report – 2014
In the Living Planet Report for this year, 2014, the World Wildlife Fund was more open in describing human population growth as a problem affecting the biosphere. However, they say that “consumption” and rising wealth are equally important in countries where this is taking place. They fail to point out that even low rates of population growth can be a problem given the already huge size that our human populations has already reached, even given lower levels of economic development. And the rates of population growth in many of the poorest countries are still very high. And looking at consumption is not an adequate substitute for looking at the concept and the reality of economic growth in understanding the impact on the biosphere of human activity.
Population growth and economic growth are destroying biodiversity.
This article describes a study in Nature Ecology and Evolution that says that population growth and economic growth are the main drivers of biodiversity loss. And the loss of biodiversity means the loss of the ecosystem services that it provides including carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling and pollination.
It says that cattle farming is the major driver of biodiversity loss. However, it fails to point out that there is no political or cultural road to the significant reductions in beef-eating or cattle farming, or more generally animal husbandry that is going to solve this problem without adequate attention to the general problems of population growth and economic growth within the political systems of the developed world, especially the United States.
Our population challenge goes well beyond climate change
by Brian McGavin
This article says that politicians and the mainstream media are misleading people and failing to inform them of the problems caused by population growth and economic growth. It also criticizes environmental organizations for ignoring these problems and promoting false ideas about them.
The Green Growth Delusion
by Christopher Ketcham
This describes how and why the current push for renewable or so-called clean energy will not save our currently existing civilization with its blind commitment to population growth and economic growth. It questions whether or not it will even be possible for renewable energy to power a continuing growth civilization. Unfortunately, he says that something called Degrowthism may offer a possible answer. Some versions of degrowthism do not include a consideration of population growth, but focus instead on economic growth and a shrinking of the economy. Degrowthist theory also offers no road politically to making this happen.
Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation
Ed. By Philip Cafaro and Eileen Crist
University of Georgia Press Copyright 2012
This book offers many different needed perspectives on a major problem that the US and world environmental movements have abandoned, the problem of population growth. It includes a reconsideration of the problem of immigration into the United States, a criticism of how our primarily economic society views reality, and an account of how and why environmental organizations retreated from an engagement with the problems of population growth and the already huge size that our populations have already reached. Although this last account is valuable information, it is not the whole story.
Our last, best hope for a future on Earth
By Alan Weisman
Little, Brown and Company Copyright 2013
This book describes the effects of population growth on different people living in different parts of the world and also on the species of life making up the biosphere in those other parts. It also describes some of their attempts to find solutions that will slow it down or end it. It also describes the history of some of the technological and other developments in agriculture that made it possible to greatly expand the food supply that would support a much larger population. This included the Haber-Bosch process for making nitrogen fertilizer from natural gas and new varieties of wheat as part of the Green Revolution of the early 1970s , One of the things it reveals is that religion is not necessarily an obstacle to the changes in behavior necessary to bring population growth to a halt.
Fundamentals of Ecology
by Eugene Odum
W. B Saunders Company Copyright 1971
This is a college level textbook for undergraduate majors in ecology at colleges and universities. It covers all the basic concepts of ecology, including ecosystems, organization at the community level and the population level, and the species and the individual in the ecosystem. It also covers different biomes or types of environment such as freshwater ecology, marine ecology, estuarine ecology and terrestrial ecology.
It states that the problems of population growth and pollution require ethical, legal, political and economic constraints. It says that the green revolution in agriculture had only postponed the time when population growth must be controlled.
Rewilding the World
Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution
by Caroline Fraser
This book describes the origin and history of a new concept of conservation called “rewilding.” Key concepts of the rewilding movement include: the critical importance of large predators to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, especially in areas set aside for nature preservation; large enough areas for that healthy functioning in nature preserves, especially for large predators to travel long distances, or alternatively, the establishment of corridors between different nature preserves or areas where large predators are allowed to travel.
It also describes the importance of involving local people in nature conservation projects where rewilding is being attempted.
Principles and Applications
by Herman E. Daly
This is another college textbook. This one is about a school of economics called ecological economics, and its key principles and concepts. One of the most important concepts is that any economy must be contained within the ecosystems of the Earth. This book contains many key concepts for understanding how an economy interacts with the environment. It also includes suggested changes in how we structure our economy such as ending fractional reserve banking that would be very difficult to implement politically. One of the things this book reveals is how far out of touch our American civilization is from the larger reality as a whole within which we live.
For the Common Good
Herman E. Daly and John Cobb
Beacon Press, 1989, 1994
This book offers a critique of the alleged science of economics from the standpoint of episystemology, or the theory of knowledge. It also offers proposals for establishing sustainable communities in the United States.
It says that there is a need for limits on population size and says that historically the rich and the upper classes favored a higher birth rate among the poor and working classes so they would be disparate and more willing to accept subsistence wages.
Can We Have Prosperity without Growth?
By John Cassidy
The New Yorker February 10, 2020
This article is a survey of different critiques of the phenomenon and the policy preference for economic growth. Unfortunately there is no attention whatsoever to the connections between population growth and economic growth. However, this group of critiques is still referred to as an “ecological” critique.
It says that the alarm about climate change and other environmental threats gave birth to the degrowth movement. It says that some of the adherents of the degrowth movement favor a complete dismantling of capitalism. However, no political path to doing this is suggested and there is no awareness of the need to stop population growth and at the same time bring about a gradual reduction in population size
Economic growth has a “devastating cost for nature” review finds
by Patrick Galey
This article reports on a study commissioned by the British government of the impact on nature by economic growth. The two year study called the Dasgupta Review was a collaboration by hundreds of academics overseen by Parth Dasgupta, a professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge. It said that the way we have achieved prosperity has had a “devastating cost to nature.” It called for a “fundamental redressing of humanity’s demands and nature’s supply.”
Population growth is the main driver of increased carbon emissions
by the Swedish Research Council
This article reports on a study published in the journal Sustainability which challenges prevailing ideas about how to fight climate change. These ideas include the false belief that population is only growing in the poorest countries, and their contribution to global carbon emissions is negligible. The study analyzed emissions data for all the world’s countries. It divided up the countries according to the World Bank’s four major income groups. The study found that the population is growing in all income groups, and population growth Is the main driver of emissions growth in all income groups except the upper middle one. The richest countries had a successful reduction in per captial emissions, but this was cancelled out by an increase in population in the same group. A population decrease in rich countries could have emission related benefits in the future.
World Population Prospects 2022
United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs Population Division
This is the most recent report by the United Nations Population Division on their projected levels of human population and related matters looking ahead into the future to the year 2050 and to the year 2100. The UNPD says that “because of the momentum of growth embedded in current age structures, reductions in fertility over the next several years will have only a limited effect on the growth of the world population between now and 2050.” An important question to ask is how limited? They say that there is a 95 per cent probability that world population will be somewhere between 9.4 and 10.0 in 2050. That is a difference of 600 million between the low end of their projection and the high end. The impact of population growth in the past half century and even before has been so devastating for biodiversity and in many other ways that even relatively modest decreases in fertility could have profoundly beneficial effects And what if we have declines in fertility not just in the next several years, but all the way between now and 2050?
Although we are finite, fallible, mortal creatures living in a universe that none of us made, our future will be shaped, not just by what we know now, but by what we think should happen, or by what we think it is desirable to happen.
US Census Bureau
World Population Day, July 11th, 2023
US Census Bureau
2017 National Population Projections Datasets
This page on the US Census Bureu website presents projections of US population growth to the year 2060, information on the methodology and assumptions underlying the projections and other information.
2022 World Population Data Sheet
Population Reference Bureau
This is another publication that presents projections about the growth of human population. This is produced by a private organization, the Population Reference Bureau. This gives you a lot of information about different areas and countries of the world, not just projections of likely population growth, but many other population related statistics as well. This includes the crude birth and death rates per 1,000 of population, rates of natural increase, total fertility rates, percentages of women in their reproductive years using different methods of family planning, and levels of income and development for different countries and areas of the world. It is all presented compactly in a series of easy to read tables. It projects world population to be about 8.9 billion by 2035, and about 9.7 billion by 2050.
Human Appropriation of the Products of Photosynthesis
Bioscience Volume 36, Issue 6, June 1986, Pages 368-373
Peter M. Vitousek, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, Pamela A. Matson
This article provides an analysis that claims that nearly 40% of potential terrestrial net primary productivity is used directly, co-opted or foregone because of human activities. Net primary productivity is the organic material produced by photosysnthesis less respriration to meet their own needs. Other analyses have suggested lower or higher figures. However, what seems certain is that with continuing population and economic growth, the amount of net primary productivity used or affected by human actvities will continue to increase significantly.
Human Domination of Earth’s Ecosystems
Peter M.Vitousek, Harold A. Mooney, Jane Lubchenco, Jerry M. Melillo
Borlaug, Norman Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech Oslo, December 10, 1970
This is the acceptance speech by Norman Borlaug, regarded as the primary father of the Green Revolution in agriculture of the early 1970s that it is believed averted what might have been massive famines. Among other things the speech indicates Borlaug’s belief that this revolution in agricultural methods and technology had not ended the threat of human population growth to the human future.
Copyright 2023 the arrangement of this list of articles and books and the comments
by Richard E. Garner, Jr