Population and Environment

               Biodiversity Perspectives

Two major trends will shape the 21st century: the unprecedented growth of one species, Homo sapiens, and the demise of countless other species of plants and animals.  These two trends are inexorably intertwined, and must become the focus of policy decisions for individuals, societies, religions, and governments alike.  The time is now!

In 1950's, Chairman Mao Zedong declared war on nature, so that the people of China, the world's most populous nation, could be fed. The result was an ecological disaster, still playing itself out.

Are we still at war with nature, albeit in more subtle ways?

In Sparing Nature, I make the following claim:

"The greatest and most effective conservation measure to save earth's biodiversity is to halt the growth of the human population, and perhaps to reduce our numbers." 

That call grows more urgent every day, with a net gain of roughly 214,000 people, and a net loss of a minimum of 24 species ... one an hour ... lost in the same day.

The following links explore this idea further:

Brother, Can You Spare a Species?    The Reporter, Spring, 2004. (link to PDF file)

Population Boom Threatens Wildlife   7/25/03
Anthropologist Predicts Major Threat to Species Within 50 Years  6/10/03 
Anthropologist Pleads for Fewer Humans, More Saved Species 5/5/03

Outlook Is Grim for Mammals and Birds as Human Population Grows  6/19/13

 Hear a compelling argument by Alexandra Paul: Talking about what we don't talk about.

Other VERY useful links:

    The Population Institute

    Population Connection

   People and the Planet

    Population Action International   

   U.S. Census Bureau


Jeffrey K. McKee's Home Page


McKee, J.K. 2003  Sparing Nature: The Conflict Between Human Population Growth and  Earth=s Biodiversity.  Piscataway: Rutgers University Press.

McKee, J.K.  2003. Reawakening Malthus: Empirical Support for the Smail Scenario. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 122(4): 371-374.

McKee, J.K., Sciulli, P.W., Fooce, C.D., and Waite, T.A. 2004  Forecasting Biodiversity Threats Due to Human Population Growth.  Biological Conservation, 115(1): 161-164.

McKee, J.K., and Chambers, E.N. 2011  Behavioral Mediators of the Human Population Effect on Global Biodiversity losses.  In (R.P. Cincotta, L.J. Gorenflo, eds.), Human PopulationThe Geography and Demography of Homo sapiens and their Influences on Biodiversity.  Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp 47-59.

McKee, J.K. 2012  The “Human Population Footprint” on Global Biodiversity.  In (E. Crist, P. Cafaro eds.), Life on the Brink – Environmentalists Confront Population Growth.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, pp. 91-97.

McKee, J.K., Chambers, E.N. and Guseman, J. 2013  Human population density and growth validated as extinction threats to mammal and bird species.  Human Ecology 41.