Environmental groups accused of avoiding the controversial issue of human overpopulation


Robin Maynard adresses Population Matters 2019 conference. Photo credit: Population Matters.

By Anders Lorenzen

Population Matters, a UK charity which works on highlighting issues related to human overpopulation, has voiced sharp criticism towards environmental groups, in particular, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for not acknowledging the link between overpopulation and environmental challenges.

At Population Matters’ annual conference in London last weekend, it’s Director Robin Maynard confronted WWF’s Director of Science, Dr Mark Wright about this issue in front of an audience of three hundred guests. He cited WWF’s Living Planet report in which he noted that the term ‘population growth’ was used 200 times but only four times in connection to humans, which he felt was an indication of lack of courage from WWF in addressing this controversial issue for fear of alienating supporters.

Wright responded that he did not disagree human overpopulation was a challenge but believed consumption was as much if not more of a challenge. He also insisted it was an issue WWF is taking seriously.

Maynard took the opportunity to again highlight the point that the conversation about limiting population growth need not be a negative or controversial one and cited Bangladesh as an example of a country in which fertility rates have dropped from seven two children per family after extensive pushes in areas like women’s health and empowerment in a relatively short space of time which ultimately is a happy success story.

He also believes that issue is slowly entering into the mainstream conservation on climate change, citing their most influential patron Sir David Attenborough’s new Netflix series ‘Our Planet’ which refers to human overpopulation in relation to climate change and extinction issues far more openly than the previous series have done. It was also apparent that Maynard was excited about what the climate movement Extinction Rebellion and the Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg had brought to the table in terms of awareness about the issues.

Ultimately Maynard offered praise towards Wright and WWF for being prepared to share a platform on this issue at the conference and invited them and other large environmental NGOs to collaborate more closely with Population Matters on this issue in future.



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