The last tree in an overpopulated world

Terry Spahr: Talking About Overpopulation Isn’t Sexy, But We Have to Do It

For 7.8 billion people to live sustainably on the planet, everyone would have to be a vegetarian; never drive a car or fly in an airplane; live in a one-room apartment with minimal electricity and no heat, hot water, washing machine, dryer, or dishwasher; and have only a few sets of clothes and pairs of shoes. Sounds crazy, right? But what’s even crazier is that nobody, including environmentalists, really wants to talk about our growing population and consumption. With 7.8 billion people on the planet and a few billion more (between 9.4 and 12.7 billion people in 2100 based on UN estimates) to come, it is time we look at the elephant in the room.

Together with Terry Spahr, the environmentalist and filmmaker behind “8 Billion Angels,” we talk about:

  • how population growth impacts our lives, health, and the planet
  • why so few people talk about overpopulation and why some even deny it
  • why having a smaller family is the most impactful thing anyone can do
  • why providing access to education and family-planning methods helps both people and nature
  • which countries are successfully slowing their population growth
  • why reducing consumption is almost impossible
  • why educating people about population is part of the solution

You can listen to the podcast on all major platforms, including Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.

Planet Earth is crowded by people


6 thoughts on “Terry Spahr: Talking About Overpopulation Isn’t Sexy, But We Have to Do It”

  1. Joan Agnes Philips

    Yes you can reduce consumption without shifting it somewhere else.
    Since my consumption is very low, I simply stopped working and retired early. Now my income is low enough to just meet my needs, and it gives me time to listen to and comment on podcasts.

    1. That sounds so great, Joan! I love your mindset. It reminds me of what Carleton Schade writes about on his blog – Work less, play more. Or what the Mr. Money Moustache says about financial independence. I am happy that you made it!

  2. Pingback: Paul R. Ehrlich | Best conservation strategy? Empower women

  3. Frederick Macdonald

    I have been aware of the overpopulation problem since the early 1970’s when I read “The Population Bomb” written by Dr. Paul Ehrlich. Unfortunately, his idea of zero population growth never really caught on, and so here we are in the midst of a pandemic, with a continually growing population that Nature has constructed a way to lower, since we have not done anything to lower it ourselves. God help us!

  4. We can talk about anything in a sexy way. Besides the obvious way of having sexy models deliver the facts, there’s always a sexy side to the truth. Having fewer kids would mean free time to romp away from a toddler. Having fewer kids would mean more romantic nights out to dinner. Having fewer kids leads to less emotional demands and more potential for sexy moods. Talking about improving our world and facing overshoot is noble and admirable- sexy traits. We could make talking about it very sexy, and in fact, this could help overcome the hurdles and resistance of emotional attachments to unsustainable cultural ideology and norms which aren’t noble and admirable- not sexy. 😉

    1. Hi Rich, thanks for your comment. You are right. It is just about finding the right language that will make people interested. If you say that the world’s population is growing by 80 million people every year, nobody cares. But if you can somehow personalize the message, as you did, you can get more people interested in your cause. Having fewer children means more freedom, more time for your partner, for your hobbies, for friends, for volunteering, etc. You can check out my new interviews that are focused on a sustainable population here:

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