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Conference on human population and extinction

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Conference on human population and the sixth mass extinction

Dame Jane Goodall will provide the opening video message at a landmark conference addressing the links between human population growth and plunging global biodiversity this April. An international panel of scientists, activists and campaigners will present the evidence, discuss the problems and propose solutions before a public audience in London. The event is organised by campaigning charity Population Matters.

What: Conference and public meeting The last elephant in the room: human population and the sixth mass extinction When: 2 – 5pm, Saturday, 27 April 2019 Where: The Light, Friends House, 173-177 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BJ Registration: FREE, more details at

 Speakers panel includes:   – Phil Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming and author of Dead zone: where the wild things were – Dr Edu Effiom, Director of Biodiversity at State Forestry Commission, Nigeria – Bella Lack, 16yr old UK environmental campaigner – Tony Juniper, Executive Director of Campaigns and Advocacy, WWF-UK (Note – Mr Juniper will shortly become Chair of Natural England and may be replaced by another WWF representative) – Dr Winnie Kiiru, technical advisor, Stop Ivory, Kenya – Robin Maynard, director of Population Matters

Full conference line-up available at Speakers may be available for interview prior to the event. Please contact Alistair Currie (below) for more information.   Robin Maynard says:

“Grave news about the biodiversity crisis is coming thick and fast, and studies, scientists and conservationists are now increasingly willing to identify human population growth as one of its key drivers. It’s time for population to assume its proper place in the extinction debate and, most importantly, among its solutions. We’re delighted to have such an authoritative and diverse panel of experts to discuss the issue and believe our conference will mark an important step in putting the issue firmly on the conservation agenda.”

Contact: Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications: E: T: 0208 123 9170

  Notes for editors

About Population Matters

Population Matters is a UK-based charity which campaigns to achieve a sustainable human population, to protect the natural world and improve people’s lives.

We promote positive, practical, ethical solutions – encouraging smaller families, inspiring people to consume sustainably, and helping us all to live within our planet’s natural limits. We believe everyone should have the freedom and ability to choose a smaller family. We support human rights, women’s empowerment and global justice.

Our patrons include Sir David Attenborough, Dame Jane Goodall and Chris Packham.

Selected biodiversity and population studies

A study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution this month quantified a variety of drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem services losses. It found that “Economic and population growth have been driving the upward trend of impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services, despite a reduction of the impacts per unit of GDP.”        Marques, A. et al. Increasing impacts of land use on biodiversity and carbon sequestration driven by population and economic growth. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0824-3   The World Scientists Warning to Humanity: Second Notice, published In Bioscience in 2017 has now been endorsed by more than 20,000 scientists. It details decline in almost every marker of environmental resilience, and warns of “catastrophic biodiversity loss”. The paper identifies “continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats”. It lists 13 policy measures essential to safeguarding our future, including the provision of family planning and girls’ education to reduce fertility and “estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.”        Ripple et al. and signatories from 180 countries (2017) World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice, Bioscience

Research published in the July 2017 Proceedings of US National Academy of Sciences reviewed data on 27,600 terrestrial vertebrate species, with a more detailed analysis of 177 mammal species. It concluded that “the ultimate drivers of those immediate causes of biotic destruction, namely, human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich.”        Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Rodolfo Dirzo (2017) Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signalled by vertebrate population losses and declines, from:  

  The 2019 EAT-Lancet Commission report on global food sustainability examines how to feed the human population up until 2050 without causing irreversible damage to the environment. It notes that 80% of extinction threats to mammal and bird species are due to agriculture. The study concludes that a “transformation” of food production and consumption would allow a global population of 10bn to be fed sustainably but that achieving sustainability for a population of over 10bn is “increasingly unlikey”.        Willet et al (2019) Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems

This email was sent to Population Matters, 135-137 Station Road, London, London E4 6AG, United Kingdom


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