Population and the environment

Our numbers have a huge effect on our natural environment. The more of us there are, the bigger the impact on nature. Human population growth is a key driver of biodiversity loss, resource depletion, deforestation, climate emissions and pollution.

In the 1970s, Population Matters Patron Paul Ehrlich and his colleague John Holdren developed an equation to describe our impact on the environment:

I = P x A x T

Where "I" is impact, "P" is population, "A" is affluence and "T" is technology. The "IPAT" equation shows that our numbers, how we live, and the technology we use all have an effect on our finite environment.

See our latest news stories and blog posts about the environment below.

Wake up sign
23 April 2020

Report: overpopulation one of ten greatest threats to humanity

A new report by a group of Australian researchers identifies the ten most catastrophic threats to human survival, including overpopulation, climate change, biodiversity loss, and pandemics, and calls for urgent global action.

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27 March 2020

Study: preference for small families is 'contagious'

As highly social creatures, much of what we say and do is influenced by the people close to us. A new paper examines this effect on family size and consumption behaviour and concludes that smaller families and sustainable lifestyles could be achieved by facilitating the evolution of social norms.

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5 June 2020

World Environment Day

World Environment Day takes place every year on 5 June. It is the UN's flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment. 

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22 April 2020

Earth Day

Every year on April 22nd, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

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11 July 2020

World Population Day 2020 Live Q&A

Join us for a live panel discussion on the link between population and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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Deforestation
13 March 2020

Population growth and environmental destruction fuel deadly diseases

Our growing population and resulting overexploitation of nature are facilitating the emergence and spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.

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Shipping
17 February 2020

The ‘blue acceleration’: ocean plunder in the Anthropocene

A new study highlights the rapidly increasing pressure on the world’s oceans as a result of human population growth and burgeoning demand for resources.

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Deer crossing road
24 January 2020

Wildlife habitat crumbling under weight of human footprint

A new study shows that the majority of wildlife ranges are now under intense human pressure due to population growth and changes in the use of the land.

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Chris Packham
17 January 2020

Chris Packham: we need to talk about population

In a landmark and powerful documentary on the BBC, Population Matters patron Chris Packham looked at the challenges of population growth, and made an impassioned plea for it to become a core part of environmental debate.

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Mountains and lake
10 January 2020

Here's why 2020 could be a ‘super-year’ for nature

Despite the climate and biodiversity crises continuing to escalate, environmentalists are calling 2020 a ‘super-year’ for nature because of several upcoming international policy meetings that have the potential to set nature on a path to recovery. Population Matters is actively campaigning to ensure population solutions are recognised and implemented.

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