David Roberts, VOX
Since you asked (many times)
I did an event with environmental journalist (and personal hero) Elizabeth Kolbert late last week, in which we discussed various matters related to journalism and climate change. Subsequently, one of the attendees wrote and asked why I hadn’t talked about population. Isn’t overpopulation the real root of our environmental ills?
Anyone who’s ever given a talk on an environmental subject knows that the population question is a near-inevitability (second only to the nuclear question). I used to get asked about it constantly when I wrote for Grist — less now, but still fairly regularly.
I thought I would explain, once and for all, why I hardly ever talk about population, and why I’m unlikely to in the future.
Math confirms that population is indeed a factor in environmental impact
Human impact on the natural environment is summed up in a simple formula:
Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology
All are rising. (Bill Gates has a slightly more complicated formula related to carbon dioxide, but P is a variable in his too.)