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.

SDGs what's missing
11 July 2019

Sustainable development needs sustainable population

On World Population Day 2019, Population Matters is bringing that critical message to London, New York and Lagos

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Lion
4 July 2019

Human population density main driver of nature loss in Africa

A new study reveals that rapid human population growth is the biggest driver of environmental degradation in African countries, highlighting the urgent need for greater investment in family planning as a pathway to achieving biodiversity and sustainable development targets.

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Person looking at stars
28 June 2019

Mission Earth, not Mars

Population Matters Director Robin Maynard challenges Elon Musk's claim that we should be worried about population decline, not too many people.

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27 June 2019

Condoms cut carbon - Population Matters at the Mass Climate Lobby

Decked in giant condom robes, Population Matters and supporters attended the mass lobby for climate and the environment in London yesterday, highlighting the urgent need for smaller families.

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Woman drinking water
21 June 2019

No water, no life: Population growth and climate change are fuelling the water crisis

From India to sub-Saharan Africa to Britain, local water shortages are turning into a global water crisis due to population pressure and climate change.

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crowd
17 June 2019

UN report: Small change in family size, big change in future population

According to new UN data, the world’s population is projected to grow by more than 3 billion people by the end of the century, increasing from the current 7.7 bn to 10.9 bn. As in previous years, the data show that small changes in family size translate into a difference of several billion people by the end of the century – just half a child less per couple would see our population peak well before 2100.

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the time is now
26 June 2019

The Time is Now. Mass Lobby 2019

Join us in Westminster on 26th June for The Time Is Now, a Climate Coalition Mass Lobby for climate, nature, and people. Together we can send a clear message to politicians.

We will rally around Parliament, coming face to face with our MPs to tell them that The Time Is Now for action on climate change and the environment. We’ll snake round Westminster, organised town by town, village by village, and meet our MPs one-by-one to tell them that we want action!

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Robin Maynard
29 May 2019

Are we getting through?

The profile of population and family size is continuing to grow in the media. That discussion is normalising the choice to have few or no children for environmental reasons, and it's something policymakers can no longer ignore. 

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Small family with twins
15 May 2019

Small families around the world share their thoughts

We asked people why they chose to have small families and were overwhelmed by the hundreds of testimonials we received from around the world. Both parents and child-free people shared their views on small family life and how concern about the environment often played a key role in their decisions about how many children to have.

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Chimpanzee
10 May 2019

One million species face extinction unless we address population growth

A major new UN report on the state of the world’s biodiversity states that nature is being destroyed faster than ever before due to population and economic growth. Three-quarters of all land environments and two-thirds of all marine environments have been severely damaged by humans over the past five decades, leading to one million species now threatened with extinction.

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