Population experts have been saying for many years that we can anticipate nine billion humans on Earth by the year 2050. This morning (July 10, 2012), the Worldwatch Institute in Washington D.C. released the following nine strategies for stopping short of that number. These ideas agree with what nearly every other population expert has told EarthSky over the past decade: that is, women are the key to reducing the rate of population growth. For example, says Worldwatch Institute and other experts, in every culture surveyed to date, women who have completed at least some secondary school have fewer children on average, and have children later in life, than do women who have less education. Women who can own, inherit, and manage property, divorce, obtain credit, and participate in civic and political affairs on equal terms with men are more likely to postpone childbearing and to have fewer children compared to women who are deprived of these rights. And so on. You get the idea. Here are the nine population strategies, from Worldwatch.
- Provide universal access to safe and effective contraceptive options for both sexes.
- Guarantee education through secondary school for all, especially girls.
- Eradicate gender bias from law, economic opportunity, health, and culture.
- Offer age-appropriate sexuality education for all students.
- End all policies that reward parents financially based on the number of children they have.
- Integrate lessons on population, environment, and development into school curricula at multiple levels.
- Put prices on environmental costs and impacts.
- Adjust to an aging population instead of boosting childbearing through government incentives and programs.
- Convince leaders to commit to stabilizing population growth through the exercise of human rights and human development.
Bottom line: On July 10, 2012, the Worldwatch Institute of Washington D.C. released nine strategies for stopping short of 9 billion in population growth. Educating and empowering women is key to these strategies. Other strategies include educating children about population growth, and providing incentives to adjust to an aging population.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.