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Revisiting the Environmental and Socioeconomic Effects of Population Growth: a Fundamental but Fading Issue in Modern Scientific, Public, and Political Circles

Camilo Mora, Department of Geography, University of Hawaii


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Reversing ongoing declines in human welfare and biodiversity is at the core of human development. Although numerous institutions and avenues are in place to reverse such trends, there seems to be limited consideration of population growth as an ultimate driver. I review recent studies showing how the issue of population growth has been downplayed and trivialized among scientific fields, which may in part account for the reduced public interest in the issue and in turn the limited will for policy action. Different sources of evidence suggest that population growth could fundamentally affect society, nature, and the climate. Although tackling the issue of overpopulation will suffer from major impediments including scientific motivation, public scientific illiteracy, religion, and media attention, ongoing neglect of this issue will increase not only the extent of anthropogenic stressors but also the struggle associated with strategies to reverse biodiversity loss and improve human welfare.

Key words

biodiversity loss; climate change; debt; employment; population growth; public outreach

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087