On 27 March 2023 the Guardian published an item headed ‘World population bomb may never go off as feared, finds study’.

This reports an optimistic study, produced by Earth4All and sponsored by the Club of Rome, which projects that on current trends the world population will reach a high of 8.8 billion before the middle of the century, then decline rapidly. The peak could come earlier still if governments take progressive steps to raise average incomes and education levels. An alternative prospect, with world-wide efforts to invest in education, social services and improved equality, population could peak by 2040 and then fall to 6 billion by 2100.

No doubt this study will be often quoted by those optimists who suppose that these issues will resolve themselves: but I feel that though it is very encouraging, it should not let us off the hook. It seems to me that it is over-optimistic to expect that growth, which is now proceeding as fast as it ever has, will decline so extremely. The last billion of population took eleven years, as opposed to rhe twelve years of the previous billion, so the rate of growth is still increasing. I can see no possibility that fertility will decline such that the next billion will take twenty three years, as the report suggests for the business-as-usual case. The pressures against such a possibility are too great: religious resistance to contraception and abortion, governments trying to increase population, social and family pressures-all will have to be countered, let alone the nearly fifty percent of the world’s women who cannot choose when they have sex, or use a contraceptive, or access safe abortion.

The Guardian article is on tinyurl.com/4r2kxdp5

Another article criticises the report. This has been issued by The Overpopulation Project, and is headed ‘The imaginary world of Earth4All’s low population projection’

The main criticism is the point which I made above, about the unlikelihood of such a low figure being achieved. The article shows a graph in which the new projections are superimposed on the well known UN projection graph. The Earth4All’s median projection for Business as Usual roughly coincides with the lowest of UN’s projections, and their lowest is dramatically below that.

This article is on https://tinyurl.com/48tj4nk3

In my view, none of this suggests we should let up on what we are doing, or supporting the causes that we do