Sustainable Population Resolution Makes the Population – Climate Change Connection

Climate change is increasingly recognized as an enormous threat to the future of humanity and all other life on the planet. During the relatively stable climate of the past 10,000 years, the human population has exploded from only a few million to over 7.5 billion today. Climate scientists predict that in the coming decades we’ll face increasing frequency of both droughts and floods, more intense heat waves, and rising sea levels. Food insecurity will rise, climate refugees will increase, and the potential for conflict and war will climb.

Smaller families mean fewer carbon emitters. Smaller families also mean a smaller future human population that can adapt more easily to the climate disruption that’s coming.

In the past year a significant new study was carried out at Lund University in Sweden that helped make clear the population - climate change connection. The study found that, in developed countries, having one fewer child with all their expected descendants saves 6 times as much carbon emissions as the next 11 “green” actions combined – including living car-free, not flying, buying green energy, and eating a plant-based diet. The study was featured throughout global media including NPR, Fortune, the Guardian, and many others.

And now – coming 25 years after the landmark 1992 Warning to Humanity – over 15,000 scientists in over 180 countries have signed a Second Warning to Humanity. The authors give a clear call to action for humanity, noting:

“As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita ­consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.”

In recent weeks, the Minneapolis Overpopulation Meetup group has designed a Sustainable Population Resolution that can be used as part of the “groundswell of grassroots efforts” the scientists call for. The Resolution seeks to help make explicit the population - climate change connection for both political parties and environmental groups. Please use the Resolution to both educate and advocate for sustainable population within the various groups you belong to. You can also find the Resolution at the WPB website under the “Take Action” tab.

Sustainable Population Resolution

Whereas climate change is the most egregious sign that we are currently living unsustainably and imperiling the future1; and

Whereas the Lund University Study quantitatively concludes having one fewer child per family in developed countries reduces the CO2 equivalent of more than 10 times the combined CO2 reduction of the next three highest-impact actions2; and

Whereas Global Footprint data indicate a drastic reduction in both population and consumption is required in the United States for us to live sustainably3; and

Whereas population reduction through lower birthrates is more humane than population reduction through increased misery and death rates,

Be it resolved that the _____________ Party (or organization), in addressing climate change, will advocate for voluntary small families as an integral part of its response.

1 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, Second Notice 

2 Lund University Study 

Highest impact-actions for reducing your carbon footprint:

  • having one fewer child (an average for developed countries of 58.6 metric ton CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) emission reductions per year;
  • living car-free (2.4 tCO2e saved per year);
  • avoiding airplane travel (1.6 tCO2e saved per round trip trans-Atlantic flight); and
  • buying green energy (1.5 tCO2e saved per year).

3 Global Footprint Network: Data indicate that a sustainable US population, living at a European standard of living (2/3 of the current American standard), would be 150 million people.