Religious Leaders 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 14th leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

    One of the great challenges today is the population explosion. Unless we area able to tackle this issue effectively we will be confronted with the problem of the natural resources being inadequate for all the human beings on this earth.

   So now the question is…the population of the human being…So the only choice…limited number…happy life...meaningful life. Too many population…miserable life and always
bullying one another, exploiting one another…there’s no use.

Rev. William G. Sinkford
, President, Unitarian Universalist Association

  Unitarian Universalists believe that we are all part of the interdependent web of existence, and so our personal choices affect all of creation.  Ours are the only hands on earth to do the work of salvation, and we cannot relinquish responsibility for the fate of our planet.  Unchecked population growth is a threat to environmental sustainability, but it is also a threat to the economic health of communities, families, and individuals. Persons in the developed world have more rights and resources for making responsible reproductive choices, and we need to ensure that all people have the same freedoms.


Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader.

    There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is practical and necessary. Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess.

    What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims. 

Writers and Scholars

Edward Abbey, environmental author and essayist most famous for The Monkey Wrench Gang
   Endless growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. 

Aristotle, 322 B.C. 
   Experience shows that a very populous city can rarely, if ever, be well governed.  To the size of states there is a limit, as there is to other things (plants, animals, implements), for none of these retain their natural power when they are too large or too small. 

Isaac Asminov, Russian-born American author and professor of biochemistry best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

...democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only 
declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters. 

Sir David Attenborough, author of The Life of Mammals. 
   Mankind is looking for food not just on this planet but on others. Perhaps the time has now come to put that process into reverse. Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, maybe we should control the population to ensure the survival of our environment. 

Albert A. Bartlet, Professor of Physics, Emeritus, University of Colorado, Boulder.

   You cannot preserve the environment by accepting the population growth and the increased affluence that are destroying the environment.

      The Great Challenge: Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population locally, nationally, or globally?

William Blake,
British poet and artist.

   You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough. 

Kenneth Boulding, was an economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, interdisciplinary philosopher, and cofounder of General Systems Theory.

  Anyone who believes you can have infinite exponential growth on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist.  

David Brower, Executive Director, Sierra Club 1966.

   We feel you don’t have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy. 

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, scientist, photographer and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water.

   We must alert and organise the world's people to pressure world leaders to take specific steps to solve the two root causes of our environmental crises - exploding population growth and wasteful consumption of irreplaceable resources. Over consumption and overpopulation underlie every environmental problem we face today. 

Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb.

   Basically, then, there are only two kinds of solutions to the population problem. One is a "birth rate solution," in which we find ways to lower the birth rate. The other is a "death rate solution," in which ways t raise the death rate - war, famine, pestilence - find us. 

David Foreman, environmentalist and founder of Earth First. He is now the head of the Rewilding Institute and publishes Around the Campfire.

  Should conservationists find the wisdom and courage to come back to calling for population stabilization, we must stress how the population explosion causes the ecological wounds that result in mass extinction and destruction of the biosphere. There is our expert province. Because species extinction and destruction of wilderness has consistently been overshadowed by the other consequences of the population explosion, pointing this out as a new concern in a thoughtful, convincing way could help return the world community to a more rational approach about population growth. 

Garrett Hardin, author of Exploring New Ethics for Survival.

   For too long have we supposed that technology would solve the "population problem." It won't. I first became fully aware of this hard truth when I wrote my essay "The Tragedy of the commons," ...  Never have I found anything so difficult to work into shape. I wrote at least seven significantly different versions before resting content with this one, ... . It was obvious that the internal resistance to what I found myself saying was terrific. As a scientist I wanted to find a scientific solution; but reason inexorably led me to conclude that the population problem could not possibly be solved without repudiating certain ethical beliefs and altering some of the political and economic arrangements of contemporary society. 

Prof Stephen Hawking - The Universe in a Nutshell (2001).

   In the last 200 years the population of our planet has grown exponentially, at a rate of 1.9% per year. If it continued at this rate, with the population doubling every 40 years, by 2600 we would all be standing literally shoulder to shoulder. 

Richard Heinberg, author of Peak Everything and several other environmental books.

   Our society-like all societies-has the potential to collapse…To think that a society can continue to grow in complexity and population indefinitely is, to me, cult like thinking. 

George Perkins Marsh, a native Vermonter, he was one of the first to see that man’s effect on the environment was of major concern.  He is the author of Man and Nature.

   Man has too long forgotten that the earth was given to him for usufruct alone, not for consumption, still less for profligate waste.

(Note: usufruct means the right of using and enjoying all the advantages and profits of the property of another without altering or damaging the substance.) 

Bill McKibben, author of Maybe One, many other environmental books, and a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College.

   No decision any of us makes will have more effect on the world (and on our lives) than whether to bear another child.  No decision then should be made with more care. 

Helen Nearing, with her husband Scott, was one of the first (in the 1930’s and starting in Vermont!) back-to-the-landers and promoters of simple living.  They coauthored several books and she wrote Loving and Leaving the Good Life.

   Besides, perhaps it was a contribution we could make to society---to keep down the population surge by not adding to it. 

Sir Peter Scott, founder of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

   You know, I have often thought that at the end of the day, we would have saved more wildlife if we had spent all WWF's money on buying condoms. 

B.F. Skinner, American psychologist, author, inventor, advocate for social reform, and poet.

   If the world is to save any part of its resources for the future, it must reduce not only consumption but the number of consumers. 

Arnold Joseph Toynbee, British historian and the author of the 12-volume Study of History.

   We have been God-like in our planned breeding of our domesticated plants and animals, but we have been rabbit-like in our unplanned breeding of ourselves.  

World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, signed by 1600 senior scientists from 70 countries, including 102 Nobel Prize laureates.

   Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth. 

Edward O. Wilson, scientist, Pulitzer Prize winning author and father of biodiversity.

   The key problem facing humanity in the coming century is how to bring a better quality of life -- for 8 billion or more people -- without wrecking the environment entirely in the attempt. 

Political Leaders 

Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. President.

   The hungry world cannot be fed until and unless the growth of its resources and the growth of its population come into balance. Each man and woman-and each nation - must make decisions of conscience and policy in the face of this great problem. 

James Madison, U.S. President.

   What becomes of the surplus of human life? It is either, 1st. destroyed by infanticide, as among the Chinese and Lacedemonians; or 2d. it is stifled or starved, as among other nations whose population is commensurate to its food; or 3d. it is consumed by wars and endemic diseases; or 4th. it overflows, by emigration, to places where a surplus of food is attainable. 

Richard Nixon, U.S. President.

   One of the most serious challenges to human destiny in the last third of this century will be the growth of the population. Whether man’s response to that challenge will be a cause for pride or for despair in the year 2000 will depend very much on what we do today. If we now begin our work in an appropriate manner, and if we continue to devote a considerable amount of attention and energy to this problem, then mankind will be able to surmount this challenge as it has surmounted so many during the long march of civilization. 

John D. Rockefeller, III, Chairman, Commission on Population and the American Future, 1972.

   We have looked for, and have not found, any convincing economic argument for continued population growth.  The health of our economy does not depend upon it, nor does the vitality of business, nor the welfare of the average person.

Ronald Reagan, U.S. President.

   Our country and state have a special obligation to work toward the stabilization of our own population so as to credibly lead other parts of the world towards population stabilization.