Moral panic about overpopulation: the distracting campaign of Population Matters
—For Immediate Release —
28th October 2011
On the 31st October the world population will pass 7 billion. It is essential that evidence rather than myth informs the challenges and opportunities that such population growth presents.
Population Matters describe themselves as “the leading environmental charity and think-tank in the UK concerned with the impact of population growth on the environment”. The group have promoted their apocalyptic views of population in well funded media campaigns to mark the passing of 7 billion global population.
Radical Statistics’ Population group of UK demographers/population scientists and statisticians, have examined the claims and policy of Population Matters finding them guilty of frequent overstatement, rhetoric and one-sided assertion rather than evidence that population growth is the main cause of environmental threats. Like others concerned about overpopulation before them, Population Matters promote policies that erroneously focus on the groups who consume the least. The Radical Statistics group calls on high profile patrons of Population Matters to reconsider their support, including the naturalists and broadcasters David Attenborough and Chris Packham, environmental campaigner Jonathan Porritt, and senior academic and cultural figures.
Seven key myths that are promoted by Population Matters are summarised below:
|Myth 1Population growth is increasing at an ever faster rate.Evidence
Current UN projections indicate slowing growth and a maximum world population that remains between 10.0 and 10.5 billion from 2083. In the UK levels of fertility are below the level required to replace the current population.
|Myth 2Population causes resources to run out.Evidence
This myth has a long history; it has been expressed by Malthus, Plato, Aristotle and Tertullian, and many times since. Resources are not fixed or knowable; what is considered a resource changes over time. This myth overlooks the potential for human ingenuity to overcome problems, discover and use resources more efficiently. Historical evidence of steadily increasing population fed by successive productive revolutions demonstrates that a fixed human carrying capacity for planet earth is nonsense.
For more detail on the critique of Population Matters see the paper ‘Moral panic about overpopulation: a distracting campaign?’ by the Radical Statistics Population Studies group available at:
Dr Alan Marshall is the contact for Radical Statistics Population Studies Group on this matter and is available for comment on Friday 28th October 2011: