This is the latest in a series of Saturday GINK videos about population and reproduction (or a lack thereof).

Does it really make a difference to global sustainability if Americans have fewer children?  Damn straight, says William Ryerson, founder and president of the Population Media Center and president of the Population Institute.

Ryerson has a new article that provides a good overview of global population issues — “Population: The Multiplier of Everything Else” [PDF], which will appear in the forthcoming Post Carbon Reader.  Here’s the beginning of the piece:

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When it comes to controversial issues, population is in a class by itself.

Advocates and activists working to reduce global population growth and size are attacked by the Left for supposedly ignoring human-rights issues, glossing over Western overconsumption, or even seeking to reduce the number of people of color. They are attacked by the Right for supposedly favoring widespread abortion, promoting promiscuity via sex education, or wanting to harm economic growth. Others think the problem has been solved, or believe that the real problem is that we have a shortage of people (the so-called “birth dearth”). Still others think the population problem will solve itself, or that technological innovations will make our numbers irrelevant.

One thing is certain: The planet and its resources are finite, and it cannot support an infinite population of humans or any other species.

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A second thing is also certain: The issue of population is too important to avoid just because it is controversial.

Ryerson goes on to claim it’s a myth that economic development is needed to slow population growth:

It turns out there is strong reason to believe that lower fertility rates lead to improved economic development, and there is comparatively little evidence that improved economic conditions lead to lower fertility rates.

He argues that lack of access to contraception is no longer the biggest barrier to lower fertility:

[L]arge-family norms and the cultural and informational barriers to use of contraception are now the major impediments to achieving replacement-level fertility.

Ultimately, he says:

We can begin solving the global population problem by providing family-planning information and services, role-modeling a small family as the norm, and elevating the status of women and girls. 

Read the whole article. [PDF]

Have a video on population or GINK thinking to recommend? Post a link in comments below.


Read more about population and the option of going childfree: