Technology, rising material consumption, and what could be called a pandemic of “nature deficit disorders” are causing the loss of large areas of wilderness and ecosystem services, but the greatest threat can be traced to growing numbers of people.
The exponential nature of population growth shapes life on earth almost as much as gravity or respiration. But because it is so pervasive, it often goes unseen. One hour from now, earth will show a net increase of more than 9,000 humans, each one needing adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, education, and eventually jobs, not to mention realistic dreams of a better life for themselves and for their children… and on it goes. Our population currently adds 219,000 people every day. That’s a billion every 12-13 years. Will the next billion drive human civilization to a social and ecological tipping point?
"The Eighth Billion" examines the impact of population growth on the health of wildlife and wild places. It also explores the benefits of wildness and natural beauty for producing human enjoyment and inspiration. Wilderness is a form of ecological wealth that, unlike money, is not ours to spend. The quality of our lives and that of future generations depends on efforts to preserve this wealth. Population stabilization and wilderness preservation offer complementary pathways to true prosperity. As imperatives of sustainability, they offer the prospect of a world that is green, prosperous, inspirational, and fair. If we can embrace both pathways, we just might create a world that is worth inheriting!