Members receive a monthly newsletter by email. An edited version, the eUpdate, is available to non-members.
Our semiannual members' Magazine features analysis, organizational news, book reviews, members' views and letters, and articles of a less technical or academic nature. You are welcome to send us letters, reviews and articles for consideration for inclusion.
A few of the more significant articles from past issues of the magazine are listed below.
- Davey, Edmund - Food a Growing Problem Parts 1 and 2
Jackdaw, February & August 2010
How will Britain feed its growing population in a world of increasing competition for resources?
- Kellett, Wendy - An End to Growthonomics
Jackdaw, February 2010
Treating the world's resources like a credit card account, switching suppliers to avoid interest charges is no longer viable.
- Nicholson-Lord, David - Future Uncertain
Jackdaw, August 2009
Planning for the future would be easy if the UK's population was stable and living in harmony with its environment but instead it is going through many disruptive changes.
- Stevens, Val - Tragedy of the Commons
Jackdaw, August 2010
A tribute to Garrett Hardin, one of the environmental movement's great inspirational figures.
Read full back issues.
Our Journal (OPTJ)
Our semiannual Journal is sent to members on request. It contains academic and technical articles on population sustainability by Population Matters experts and other contributors. The practicability of substituting present energy consumption with renewables and the implications this has on sustainable population numbers are ongoing themes. The journal also carries reviews of significant books.
Some of the more significant articles from past issues of the Journal are listed below. The full contents of all issues of the journal back to 2002 can be found elsewhere on this site.
- Smail, J. Kenneth, Andrew Ferguson and Eric Rimmer - Three Short Pieces on Fertility
With the passing of '7 Billion Day' in October these pieces on the implications of fertility rates and population sustainability are highly topical.
- Ferguson, Andrew - Controllable Power Limits Total Power
OPTJ 10/2 p13, October 2010
This paper tackles in considerable detail the greatest limitation on switching to renewables, namely the need for controllable power rather than the uncontrollable output of wind turbines and solar panels.
- Ferguson, Andrew - The Problem with Uncontrollables
OPTJ 10/1 p21, April 2010
Suggests that the amount of renewable controllable energy sources will be inadequate to permit sufficient amounts of 'uncontrollable' sources such as wind, photovoltaics and tidal flow into an electrical system.
- Rimmer, Eric & Ferguson, Andrew - Four Paths to a Sustainable World Population
OPTJ 9/2 p26, October 2009
Footprinting analysis suggest that to become sustainable the world population will have to drop to around 2 billion but it is not clear how this reduction will come about.
- Ferguson, Andrew - Scalability of a Trial Renewable Electrical System
OPTJ 9/2 p28, October 2009
The extent of reliance on pumped storage shown in a recent German exercise to model integration of several forms of renewable energy suggest this may not be scalable.
- Ferguson, Andrew - Limits to Population in a UK Reliant on Renewable Energy
OPTJ 9/1 p6, April 2009
Limited power density and variable availability suggest that energy is at the core of the UK's carrying capacity problem; any sustainable population will be much smaller than the present.
- Pimentel, David (Editor) - Food, Energy, and Society (3rd edition), Parts 1 - 4
OPTJ 9/1 p20, April 2009 to 10/2 p3, October 2010 (ongoing in subsequent editions)
Extracts from this seminal book speak for themselves.
- Ferguson, Andrew - Malthus over a 270-Year Perspective
OPTJ 8/1 p20, April 2008
Improvements in crop yield cannot continue indefinitely. Though not within the time scale originally proposed, Malthus. underlying thesis that unchecked increase in population will overtake increase in subsistence remains fundamentally correct.
- Ferguson, Andrew - Six Inconvenient Truths
OPTJ 7/1 p17, April 2007
Five additional inconvenient truths relating to population and sustainability but largely ignored in Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth.
- Ferguson, Andrew - Human Prospects over the Next 70 Years
OPTJ 6/1 p13, April 2006
An overview of the human situation looking backwards and trying to peer ahead that far into a future dim because the human race has already greatly overshot the Earth's carrying capacity.
- Ferguson, Andrew - The Hydrogen Economy: Reality or Fantasy
OPTJ 5/2 p25, October 2005
The inefficiency of converting renewable energy to hydrogen mitigates against the viability of using as a means of storing renewables and thereby increasing their penetration.
- Ponting, Clive - A Green History of the World
A nine-part synopsis by Dr. Martin Desvaux published in OPTJ 5/2 (Oct 2005) to OPTJ 10/1 (April 2010)
This summaries Clive Ponting's well-researched and insightful 1991 book, which maps humankind's escalating impact on the ecosphere throughout history. The inexorable degradation humans collectively inflicted on our planet through a persistent combination of ignorance and greed is laid bare. Sadly, it underlines the truth in the adage that 'history teaches no lessons'. Ponting's updated edition, A New Green History of the World, was published in 2007.
Read full back issues.
The books listed below provide in-depth understanding of many issues related to environmental sustainability and population numbers. While many are written by leaders in their field, Population Matters does not necessarily endorse the contents or recommendations of any particular book. Each book is allocated to a single category but may contain material relating to other categories.
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- Alexander, H. A Child's Introduction to the World: Geography, Cultures and People.
Black Dog & Leventhal, 2010.
This book explores the different countries and cultures of our fascinating planet with engrossing text and charming illustrations plus activities to show young readers how to create their own maps.
- D.K. Publishing. A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World.
Through this book, meet children from around the world, from Bangladesh to Colombia, each with a unique and uplifting story to tell.
- Fox, M. Whoever You Are.
An inspiring celebration for all children, whoever they are.
- Kerley, B. One World, One Day.
National Geographic Society, 2009.
A series of photographs reflecting on how each might resonate in the theme of the global family.
- Morris, A. Houses and Homes.
William Morrow, 2007.
Looks at the incredible diversity of houses, all of them are made for families to live in.
- Priceman, M. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.
This recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients.
- Schuett, S. Somewhere in the World Right Now.
Exploring the concept that at the same moment we are getting ready to sleep, other people are starting a new day.
- Smith, D J. If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World's People.
Kids Can Press, 2011.
A look at the world, based on the idea that it is a village of 100 people.
- Spier, P. People.
A beautifully illustrated journey through cultural diversity.
- Strauss, M. R. One Well: The Story of Water on Earth.
Kids Can Press, 2007.
An in-depth look at the role of water on Earth, the water cycle, and threats to the global supply of water.
- Houghton, John. Global Warming: The Complete Briefing.
Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Gives an invaluable grounding in the science and impacts of climate change and highlights the need for action on global warming.
- Lynas, Mark. Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet.
Harper Perennial, 2008.
An eye-opening and vital account of the future of the Earth and our civilisation.
- Butler, Tom and George Wuerthner (Ed.). Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth.
Watershed Media, 2013.
Takes an unflinching look at the environmental devastation created by our thirst for energy including energy from supposedly clean and renewable sources.
- Campbell, C.J. The Coming Oil Crisis.
Multi-Science Publishing Company & Petroconsultants, 1997.
Many books have now been written about the peak of oil production; few are as interesting and readable as this one, which appeared fairly early within the genre.
- El Bassam, N. Energy Plant Species: Their Use and Impact on Environment and Development.
James & James, 1998.
All those whose work involves biomass production, whether as agriculturalist, student, farmer, producer, planner or policy maker will find this book an invaluable reference work.
- Grant, L. The Collapsing Bubble; Growth and Fossil Energy.
Seven Locks Press, 2005.
A courageous look at the world's dwindling energy resources.
- Hayden, H. C. The Solar Fraud: Why Solar Energy Won't Run the World.
Vales Lake Publishing, 2004.
This book presents the physics behind the hype, explaining why the problem is not technology, but rather the dilute nature of sunlight.
- Kunstler, J.H. The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century.
Atlantic Books, 2006.
This book, whhich is about surviving the converging catastrophes of the 21st century, focuses on the fast-disappearing bounty of cheap and abundant energy.
- MacKay, D.J.C. Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air.
UIT Cambridge, 2008.
David MacKay is able to see that ordinary people find it hard to grasp huge numbers. He reduces energy units mainly to kWh/day/person, which is something that most people can get a handle on.
- Pimentel, D, Pimentel, M. Food, Energy, and Society.
CRC Press, 2008.
No book does a better job of showing how human lives are determined by the energy available, and the importance of recognizing that high yields of food are dependent upon cheap energy.
- Smil, V. Energy at the Crossroads.
MIT Press, 2003.
Important source of data, though Smil fails fully to recognize the problems associated with uncontrollable population.
- Youngquist, W. GeoDestinies: The Inevitable Control of Earth Resources Over Nations and Individuals.
National Book Company, 1997.
This book conveys the essential messages about civilization being dependent on energy and vital materials.
- Coates, Anna. Your Only Child.
This guide addresses the reasons why parents have only one child, and explodes the myths surrounding only children to reveal how being an only offspring really affects a child.
- Defalgo, Nicki. Childfree and Loving It!
Vision Paperbacks, 2005.
A broad, definitive exploration of non-parenthood, challenging the myths of parenthood and boldly proclaiming the joys of a child-free life.
- Foster, Karen. No Way Baby!
Booksurge Publishing, 2010.
Makes the case for childlessness.
- Hoff, Derek. The State and the Stork.
University of Chicago Press, 2012.
The population debate and policy-making in United States history.
- Kane, Ros. To Have an Only Child.
Do It Yourself Press, 2005.
Deals with every aspect of the only child experience.
- Laybourn, Ann. The Only Child: Myths and Reality.
Discussion about research evidence on only children.
- Overall, Christine. Why Have Children? The Ethical Debate.
MIT Press, 2012.
Offers a wide-ranging exploration of how we might think systematically and deeply about this fundamental aspect of human life.
- Valenti, Jessica. Why Have Kids?
Amazon Publishing, 2010.
A provocative and intimate exploration of modern parenthood.
- Walker, Ellen L. Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance.
Greenleaf Book Group, 2010.
Examines the often-ignored question of what it means to be child-free by choice or circumstance in a family-focused society.
- Hines, C. – Localization a Global Manifesto.
Challenges claims we have to be internationally competitive to survive and describes destructive consequences of globalisation.
- Hightower, J., Lang, T., Hines, C. The New Protectionism.
The New Press, 1994.
Challenges the hegemony of the free-trade mantra.
- Goodhart, David. The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration.
Atlantic Books, 2013.
Tells the story of post-war immigration and charts a course for its future.
- Penn, R., Lambert, P. Children of International Migrants in Europe: Comparative Perspectives.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
A comparative analysis of the situations of more than 2,500 children of international migrants in Europe.
- Allen, V. M. Growing Pains: A Planet in Distress.
An in-depth look at the planet's greatest threat, that of too many people on one small planet.
- Bacci, M. L. A Concise History of World Population.
This book describes and explains the history of human population. It examines the changing patterns of its growth, and the effects upon it of migrations, wars, disease, technology and culture.
- Bongaarts, John et al. Family Planning for the 21st Century.
Population Council, 2012.
A comprehensive resource for policymakers and donors of the rationale and design of family planning programmes in the 21st century.
- Cafaro, P., Crist, E. (Eds.). Life on the Brink.
University of Georgia Press, 2012.
Aspires to ignite a robust discussion of population issues.
- Cohen, Joel E. How Many People Can the Earth Support.
W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.
A wealth of material about Earth's population, resources, ecology, climate, social organization, and technology, and about the history of the earth's various thinkers on the subject of its carrying capacity.
- Connolly, Matthew. Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population.
Belknap Press, 2009.
The disturbing story of our quest to remake humanity by policing national borders and breeding better people. As the population of the world doubled once, and then again, well-meaning people concluded that only population control could preserve the quality of life.
- Crawshay-Williams, R. The Comforts of Unreason: A Study of the Motives Behind Irrational Thought.
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company, 1947.
Recognises that overpopulation and our present situation is essentially a human failing, which one needs to understand.
- Curry, Patrick. Ecological Ethics.
Polity Press, 2011.
The best practical introduction to the role of philosophy in understanding the greatest environmental challenges of our time.
- Ehrlich, Paul H. The Population Explosion.
Simon and Schuster, 1991.
An excellent synopsis of the state of our environment which also provides suggestions as to how we must change our society to avoid the dire consequences of uninhibited growth.
- Engelman, Robert. More: Population, Nature and What Women Want.
Island Press, 2010.
Expanding the capacity of all women to choose when to bear children is thus the surest route to achieving an environmentally sustainable population.
- Goldstone, J., Eric K., Duffy Toft, M. Political Demography: How Population Changes are Reshaping International Security and National Politics.
OUP USA, 2012.
Provides scholars and policy makers with insights which can help to develop enlightened policies for the future.
- Guzman, J.M. et al. Population Dynamics and Climate Change.
United Nations Populations Fund, 2009.
Broadens and deepens understanding of a wide range of population and climate change linkages.
- Hardin, Garrett. Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos.
OUP USA, 1995.
This book tackles the problem of overpopulation with an honesty and fearlessness that is unrivalled, and makes a forceful case for dramatically changing the way we live in, and manage, our world.
- Hoff, Derek. The State and the Stork: The Population Debate and Policy Making in United States History.
University of Chicago Press, 2012.
A history of population-related ideas, anxieties and policy responses in the United States.
- Kaufman, E., Wilcox, W. Whither the Child.
Asks how low fertility affects individuals and society.
- Knowlton, Charles. Fruits of Philosophy - A Treatise of the Population Question.
Nabu Press, 2011.
The private companion of young married people, by a physician.
- Lowe, Ian. Bigger or Better? Australia's Population Debate.
University of Queensland Press, 2012.
Lays out the facts about the recent population increase in Australia and considers the impacts of that growth and the implications of different future patterns on that growth.
- Mackay, C. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
Dover Publications, 1993.
This classic catalogue of some of the more outré enthusiasms speculative, social, religious and just plain daft serves as a salutary reminder that the follies of mankind are not unique to the modern world.
- Malthus, Thomas. An Essay on the Principle of Population.
Oxford Paperbacks, 2008.
Widely ignored during much of the 20th century, Malthus' views are very much back on the agenda.
- May, John. Population Policies: Their Origin, Evolution, and Impact.
Provides a wealth of valuable insight and thoughtful commentary on controversies and policy options.
- Mazur, Laurie (Ed.). A Pivotal Moment Population, Justice and the Environmental Challenge.
Island Press, 2010.
Persuasive evidence that stabilizing populations is key to addressing environmental problems.
- McKee, Jeffrey K. Sparing Nature.
Rutgers University Press, 2003.
Has our explosive population growth led to the mass extinction of countless species in the earth's plant and animal communities? Jeffrey K. McKee contends it has.
- Mullan, Phil. The Imaginary Time Bomb.
I. B. Tauris, 2002.
Demolishes a succession of myths related to the modern world's preoccupation with population ageing.
- O'Connor, M., Lines, W. Overloading Australia.
Shows why it is necessary to cap Australia's population growth, and that it is possible to do this without policies that are inuhumane towards families and immigrants.
- Stanton, William. The Rapid Growth of Human Populations.
Multi-Science Publishing Company, 2003.
Scholarly perspective on demographic histories of the world's countries and human impact on the environment.
- Smil, Vaclav. China's Environmental Crisis: An Inquiry into the Limits of National Development.
M. E. Sharpe, 1993.
Vaclav Smil saw far earlier than most that development in China would ultimately be limited by its overpopulation.
- Bligh, John. The Fatal Inheritance.
Athena Press, 2004.
Raises issues about factors affecting the future of our planet and what may happen to succeeding generations of people.
- Brown, Lester. World on the Edge.
This book calls out the pivotal environmental problems and how to solve them now.
- Clugston, Chris. Scarcity: Humanity's Final Chapter.
Our persistent utilization of finite resources is undermining our very existence as a species.
- Daly, Herman. Steady State Economics.
Island Press, 1991.
What is a steady state economy and why do we need it.
- Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive.
Deals with societal collapses involving an environmental component.
- Dietz, R., O'Neill, D. Enough is Enough.
Provides a blueprint for changing the economy so that it works for people and the planet.
- Eckleben, Siegfried. Bang.
A history of the universe from the Big Bang to the most intelligent form of life on Warth, and some of its problems.
- Jackson, Tim. Prosperity Without Growth.
Tim Jackson, a top sustainability adviser to the UK government, makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations.
- Lovelock, James. The Ages of Gaia.
Oxford University Press, 2000.
A startling new theory of life: the Earth, its rocks, oceans, atmosphere, and all living things are part of one great organism, evolving over the vast span of geological time.
- Meadows, D.H. et al. Beyond the Limits.
Sequel to the classic The Limits to Growth. Shows some limits have already been overshot but that a sustainable society is technically and economically feasible.
- Montgomery, D. Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations.
University of California, 2012.
An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, this book explores the compelling idea that we are and have long been using up Earth's soil.
- Murray, Joy et al. Enough for All Forever.
Common Ground Publishing, 2012.
A handbook for learning about sustainability written specifically for educators.
- Ophuls, W. Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity Revisited.
Palgrave Macmillan, 1992.
Argues that forestalling ecological bankruptcy requires more than quick fix solutions and needs a radical overhaul of national priorities and policies.
- Ponting, C. A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations.
Surveys mankind's unsuccessful efforts, throughout history, to maintain tolerable lives without severely damaging their local environment.
- Rayner, G., Lang, T. Ecological Public Health: Reshaping the Conditions for Good Health.
Argues that public health thinking needs an overhaul, a return to and modernisation around ecological principles.
- Rirdan, Daniel. The Blueprint: Averting Global Collapse.
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.
Provides suggestions to ensure the planet's continued environmental health.
- Wright, Ronald. A Short History of Progress.
The 20th century's runaway growth has placed a murderous burden on the planet. This book argues that this modern predicament is as old as civilisation.
- Shlomo, Angel. Making Room for a Planet of Cities.
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2011.
Explores the global expansion of cities.