The global demand for energy grew twice as fast as the population over the past 50 years. When per capita energy consumption is high, even a low rate of population growth can have significant effects on total energy demand. World oil production per capita reached a high in 1970 and has since declined by 23% and will continue to decline as the population grows, signaling future price shocks as long as oil remains the world’s dominant fuel.
Waste is another critical problem. A ballooning population creates mountains of new waste—garbage, sewer and industrial waste. This will pose a difficult and expensive problem for municipal and national authorities.
The challenge for us and for world leaders is to help countries like Mexico and regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East to achieve sustainability by keeping both birth and death rates low. In a world where both grain output and fish catch per person are falling, a strong case can be made on humanitarian grounds to stabilize world and U.S. population. Physics Professor Emeritus Dr. Albert Bartlett of the University of Colorado sums it all up as follows: “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from the microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”
 Excerpted from “Increased Population is Causing a Global Ecological Disaster,” by Lester R. Brown, Gary Gardner, and Brian Halwell, originally published in The Futurist, February 1999 presented here with the permission of The World Future Society.