Living planet requires population decrease

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Torstai 10.9.2020 klo 14:10 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The Living Planet Report 2020 was just published (can be downloaded from It is sad reading: the vertebrate populations have decreased globally by 68 % from 1970.The most marked decreases have occurred in areas with high population growth and least in areas with low population growth. In South America the decrease of animal populations is 94 % as compared to 1970 and in Africa 65 %. It is no surprise that the animal populations decrease most in areas with high population growth, since there the changes in land use are greatest, and changes in land use account for more than half of the changes in animal populations. Notably, about 75 % of ice-free land area is nowadays impacted by humans, and the percentage of wilderness decreases with population increase: wilderness remains in Arctic areas and deserts, which are uninhabitable.

Although it is clear from the Living Planet Report that population growth cannot continue, if we are to have sustainable future, the economic circles say that future of economies depends on population growth. This thinking is like increasing the speed of the car, when you know that a collision to a brick wall is imminent. Shouldn’t we instead start modifying our economic theories towards a regulated population decrease? If we did that, both biodiversity could be maintained and climate change could be stopped. Not a bad heritage to future generations. I bet they would accept this even if it was done with loans: it is much better to have healthy environment and high debt than to have no debt but unhospitable Earth.

Avainsanat: climate change, biodiversity loss, economic growth

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