“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.” - Albert Einstein

Aquinas College

Human Population Growth


Urban sprawl in Las Vegas, Nevada
Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Population control is vital to achieving the sustainable vision. The world contains 7,325,064,500 people (U.S. Census, May 16, 2016) and increases by 1 person every 15 seconds! However, population growth is not uniform across the globe. Some European nations have a declining population, while others double in as little as 20 years. There is little chance that essential resources like food, water, minerals, and energy sources can keep up with world population growth; there are already millions of people whose basic human needs go unmet. Many recommend that the global goal should be zero growth, or birth rates equaling death rates. In a lifetime, women could not have more than 2 children to maintain zero population growth. Having children at an older age can also slow population growth.

The bottom line is that nearly every issue, be it social, economic or environmental, can be linked to the fact that there are too many people populating the Earth and overwhelming her carrying capacity. If we want to achieve sustainability, population growth rates must also be sustainable.


Carrying Capacity Network (CCN)

CCN is a national nonprofit advocacy group working to secure the sustainable future of the United States. Here you'll find articles by contemporary thinkers in the fields of population stabilization, national revitalization, economic sustainability and resource conservation.

CIESIN's Thematic Guides on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change

The primary objective of the Thematic Guides is to provide a tool that allows researchers, policy makers, educators, and the public to quickly access background materials on key global change issues, and to locate key data sets and information resources. In particular, the Global Population Projection Guide draws on new practices and new thinking on uncertainty, methodology, and the likely future courses of fertility and life expectancy. The guide is relatively technical and advanced, and it explains recent results from prominent institutions on population growth.

Population Reference Bureau

For 75 years, the Population Reference Bureau has been informing people about the population dimensions of important social, economic, and political issues. Their mission is to be the leader in providing timely and objective information on U.S. and international population trends and their implications.

U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census site has vast resources on population growth and demographic characteristics. This particular link contains summary demographic information for the nations of the world, as well as population pyramids showing the age distribution of the populations.

World Clock

Refer to this site to see the world population in conjunction with births, deaths, and population growth.

World Population Clock

This site contains a real time world population counter that puts the population growth rate problem into perspective!

Funded by the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Header photo by Carol Y. Swinehart, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant Extension
Site by CMC/GrandNet