Population and Environment

Understanding Population and the Environment

Basic Population Facts

  • The world’s population has doubled since 1965 and is currently growing by nearly 80 million people per year. (See the U.S. Census Bureau's real-time U.S. and world population clocks.)
  • If current fertility rates continue, world population could reach 9 billion by 2050. (Click here to see Human Numbers Through Time on PBS's NOVA Web site.)
  • 98% of population growth occurs in developing countries.
  • The U.S. has 1/20 of the world's population, yet consumes almost 1/4 of the world's natural resources.


In the last 40 years, forest area
per person has fallen by 50% worldwide. Read the USDA Forest Service Report for more information.

Wildlife and Habitat

Almost half of the world's land-based plant and animal species live on just 2% of the world's land.




Half the world's annual available fresh water is being used, mostly for agriculture.  By 2025, that number could rise to 70%
because of population growth.



Since 1970, total global emissions of greenhouse gases have increased by 61%, largely due to population growth.


What Should I Do?

Resources for Journalists

The Izaak Walton League of America has been working for the past few years with outdoor journalists to explore the linkages between population growth and resource conservation.

We’ve created a set of resources to aid journalists, students and researchers, including a database of sample articles and background materials.  Click here to see them.

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