Jonathon Porritt notes: “The International Union for Conservation of Nature has just updated its Red List of threatened species (adding more than 1,000 new species), citing habitat destruction and human development as the principal cause of this continuing biodiversity meltdown. More people every year, demanding more, every year, from an already stressed-out planet, simply doesn’t add up. And yet most environmental organisations still can’t find it in themselves to do anything to address this blindingly obvious physical reality.”
A 2012 Royal Society report People and the Planet, called for renewed global action to slow population growth – paired with a “rebalancing” of consumption to reduce inequality between developing and developed nations”.
“Rapid and widespread changes in the world’s human population, coupled with unprecedented levels of consumption, present profound challenges to human health and wellbeing, and the natural environment”.
Jonathon has good news for environmentalists: as child mortality declines, parents in the poorest countries are beginning to have confidence that their children will survive and many are limiting their families:
“Today’s reality is that infant mortality is being beaten back in almost all countries, even in the ones that are staying poor. In Bangladesh, for instance, despite very little increase in per capita income, the improved provision of health services (including reproductive healthcare) means that women are much more confident now about opting to manage their own fertility through taking advantage of a whole range of family planning programmes – almost all of which are led by women’s groups in rural areas”.
World Bank data records that infant mortality in developing countries has declined since 1990:
The Royal Society report estimates that making family planning accessible throughout the developing world to those who want it would cost $7bn a year – pointing out that this was an “extremely modest” price in relation to the global aid budget and “compared to the cost of inaction”.