As world population hits six billion, Yale experts provide insight into 21st,,century environmental challenges

New Haven, Conn. -- On Tuesday, Oct. 12, the Earth's population is expected to reach six billion and Yale population expert Fred Meyerson says that unless action is taken, projected future population growth will lead to increased pressure on scarce resources such as land and water.

"The two most important environmental challenges in the next century are likely to be climate change and the loss of biodiversity," said Meyerson, director of the Global Change Policy Project at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. "Population growth drives both of these ecological crises, and the day of six billion is a reminder that there is much work left to do to achieve population stabilization."

Global population is still growing at 78 million per year and hundreds of millions of people still do not have access to safe and reliable reproductive health services and the means to choose the number and spacing of their children, according to Meyerson. He adds that many also lack safe drinking water, a reliable food supply and access to primary education.

"On a global scale, we have the means to change the trajectory of population growth while improving life for all of us, but we lack political will," said Meyerson.

It is estimated that every 20 minutes the world gains almost 3,000 people but loses one more plant or animal species. "As we welcome the six billionth baby, we need to also assure that he or she -- and the billions who come after -- grow up in a world worth living in," Meyerson said.

Meyerson was a contributor to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) annual report, "The State of World Population 1999," which was released worldwide in late September in more than 20 languages. The U.N. report links population growth and climate change. "Global warming is a wild card inextricably linked to population-related issues, including fuel consumption, land use trade-offs and the potential limits on food and water supplies," according to the

Contact: Karen N. Peart
Yale University

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