Check this space for occasional updates and other items of interest.

Global Population Speak Out: Make the pledge!

The GPSO letter (see the prior entry here) is now going out and we are receiving pledges. Note that you do not have to receive the GPSO letter to participate. Please go here, read the directions, and send in your pledge! Chances are you might fit in some way into one of the official categories of invitees. But that is not a necessity; we cannot cover every reasonable category. We will make every effort to document whatever action you take to speak out. So just pledge!

Be a part of this historic event. Send your pledge to GlobalPopulationSpeakOut [at] gmail [dot] com

Posted on Friday, October 10, 2008 by Registered CommenterJohn Feeney in | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Global Population Speak Out (GPSO)

(Go straight to the GPSO website)

I write to raise awareness of certain fundamental but underreported and generally misunderstood ecological issues, particularly the problem of the size and growth of the human population. Sometimes something other than writing may hold more potential in that regard.

Not long ago I came up with an idea for a small project aimed at bringing new or returning voices to the public discussion of population issues. That project is now a reality. It's called the Global Population Speak Out (GPSO) and is documented on its own website.

It's an effort to weaken the taboo against speaking out on population. It came from a simple idea: What would happen if a lot of new, qualified voices were to speak out on population all at once? Wouldn't that go a long way toward breaking down the taboo?

GPSO hinges on a letter (actually an email) we will send to a large number of scientists, environmental writers, executives of environmental NGOs, and other prominent people. Only a few are widely known for public statements on the population issue. We invite them to speak out on it during February in any way they choose.  A key is that they can be sure they will have plenty of good company in speaking out; for only if we get at least 50 pledges to speak out will we ask participants to honor their pledges.

Note that you too can participate!

Our hope is that by concentrating these messages about population into one month and seeing to it that most come from voices not already widely associated with the issue, we'll grow the number of people who speak publicly on the topic, raise the prominence of the issue, and make it a little easier for others to speak out in the future.

I'm pleased to report that some highly respected scientists, writers, environmental activists, and others have lent their names to the project as signers of the GPSO letter. Their willingness to sign on speaks to the urgency of the population issue and gives the project a real chance to succeed.

Let's see how this thing goes!

Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2008 by Registered CommenterJohn Feeney in | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

The human population has grown at the direct expense of non-human populations

Relevant to an article on which I'm slowly working, an important new study looking at human population growth and the Quaternary Megafauna Extinction shows our population has grown at the direct expense of other species. Here's marine scientist Emmett Duffy's summary and discussion of the study:

Here's the study:

We must be cautious though in interpreting these data. They do not mean pre-agricultural people were causing extinctions at rates resembling those we're seeing today. In fact, the evidence is clear that for nearly all of human history prior to agriculture, hunting-gathering ways of living came much, much closer than today's society to true sustainability -- in part because population sizes were so much smaller. (Evidence suggests, in fact, that many hunting-gathering societies made efforts to hold their populations to within ecological limits. [1]) As mentioned in the article, species extinction rates were modest until not long before the advent of agriculture when the growth of the human population began to accelerate.

Click to read more ...

Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2008 by Registered CommenterJohn Feeney in , | Comments Off | References1 Reference | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

UNESCO scientist says climate change "overshadowed by population growth"

It seems we may now have another influential scientific voice speaking out on the urgency of the problem of population. Bravo to Shahbaz Khan!

From the article:

Global population growth is looming as a bigger threat to the world's food production and water supplies than climate change, a leading scientist says.

Speaking at a CSIRO public lecture in Canberra yesterday, UNESCO's chief of sustainable water resources development, Professor Shahbaz Khan, said overpopulation's impacts were potentially more economically, socially and environmentally destructive than those of climate change.

Read the rest ...
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 by Registered CommenterJohn Feeney in , | Comments Off | References1 Reference | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Article in the Guardian: Return of the population timebomb

My latest article was published in the Guardian.


Titled Return of the population timebomb, it aims to dismantle the argument that we can solve our environmental problems by reducing consumption while ignoring population. Ecological footprint data provide one way of demonstrating the large and dangerous error in that notion.

That wasn't my title by the way. (I suggested Living lightly is not enough.) But I like it. It pushes the subject of population out there with a certain audacity. We need more of that. The idea that we must be exceptionally careful or tentative about how we discuss population strikes me as an unnecessary caving in to the propaganda of activists who seek to squelch the discussion. For some, it may compete with their preferred causes. Others simply misunderstand the issue. But when we approach population humanely and logically it is typically only those activists we offend.

Anyone who talks about population with a clear misanthropic (or excessively anthropocentric) intent should simply be dismissed. Leave them out of the public discussion. For everyone else, facing and discussing population forthrightly is perhaps the most important humanitarian step we can take at this time in human history.

Feel free to contact me to let me know your thoughts on the argument in the Guardian article. I believe it's almost airtight. Perhaps the only way to gain any leverage to refute it is to challenge the validity of the ecological footprint data. But, as I mention in the article, it appears that if the data are off base it's because they are too conservative. And that only strengthens my argument. 

Posted on Sunday, May 18, 2008 by Registered CommenterJohn Feeney in , | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Welcome to

Welcome! Though parts of this site are still under construction, I think it's time to launch. The Squarespace system provides great flexibility and should do the job for some time to come.

If you're unfamiliar with my previous site, Growth is Madness!, feel free to look it over to get a sense of what I've been up to for the last year and a half. Go back even further, if you wish, to get a sense of my roots in environmentalism. is simpler than my prior sites. It's just a collection of my articles, information on things like interviews, and useful links for anyone concerned about such core ecological issues as human population growth. I'll use this blog for occasional updates and items of interest. Keeping it simple allows me to focus more on writing and less on site promotion and administration.

Now it's time to get to work so I'll have something to post here!  Can't write anything. 

Posted on Sunday, May 18, 2008 by Registered CommenterJohn Feeney in | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint