Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich is famous for his 1968 book The Population Bomb. Like many before him, Ehrlich said that equal opportunities for women might be key to maintaining Earth’s population at a reasonable level. He told EarthSky:
One of the things, for example, that we can do to get our population gradually shrinking is to give full rights to all women, make sure they have the same pay, all the same opportunities and so on.
Ehrlich and other population experts point out that women with the same opportunities as men tend to have fewer children. As opportunities for women have increased, that trend has been seen in many places on Earth.
In 2003, for the first time in human history, more than half the women in the world lived in countries or provinces where the rate of reproduction was below the replacement level. That is, those women were having fewer children than the number required to replace themselves in the next generation. That’s going to be important, according to Paul Ehrlich.
That’s because, the best estimates we can make are, with present technologies you might be able to support 1.5 billion people permanently on the planet. And we are seven now, and is the projections are correct, we’re going to add 2.5 billion people by 2050.
Listen to the 90-second EarthSky interview with Paul Ehrlich, at the top of the page.