A Demographic Milestone: Reporting on the 8 Billion Mark 

The UN released its revised World Population Prospects over the summer, which identified November 15, 2022, as the date that the global population will cross 8 billion. Since then, our Communications staff have been hard at work reporting on the latest projections, answering inquiries about what this demographic milestone means for people and our planet, and sharing the news far and wide through our digital channels.

During this interactive session with our Communications team, we learned more about key takeaways from the UN’s latest population projections and discussed how to share this information with your communities.

Date: November 2nd, 2022

Presentation Slides

Population Growth and Development

Climate Justice and Gender Inequality 

Presented By:

Hannah Evans, Senior Analyst





Slides Available Here

News Coverage, Op-Eds, and LTEs

Reporting on 8 Billion Milestone

Presented By:

Marian Starkey, Vice President for Communications





Slides Available Here

Tips for Discussing Population Issues

Communication Do’s and Don’ts

Presented By:

Olivia Nater, Communications Manager





Slide Available Here

Population Connection Quarterly Magazine – September 2022

News Coverage: 8 billion: A major population milestone

UN Report: World Population Prospects


Reproductive Rights and Family Planning

What is Population Connection’s position on abortion rights, educating children, fighting/objecting to fossil fuels, and the use of toxic sprays (Glyphosate, etc.)? What exactly are you doing besides counting heads? 

Population Connection is unequivocally pro-choice.

We don’t work directly on children’s education in the way that this question-asker probably meant it, but, of course, we reach an estimated 3 million K-12 students in North America each year with our Population Education curriculum materials.

We don’t work on any specific environmental policies because there are so many organizations doing that, but no other organizations working at the grassroots level on population issues. We do, of course, recognize that consumption patterns need to be adjusted downward in high-income countries, including the consumption of fossil fuels.

And believe it or not, we don’t count heads, as we’re not a census-taking organization! We educate and advocate on the connections between population growth and all of the health, environment, and social justice issues and the need to stabilize the world population at a level that can be sustained by the planet for generations to come.

What can Pop Connect do to keep the world population from growing more?  

Ensure that everyone who wants to use effective contraception has affordable access and knows how to use their chosen method effectively.

As we collectively move to seek to stabilize the global human population, what are some of the top approaches that need to be integrated into the human ethos? 

More compassion. A human-rights-driven approach with a greater focus on women’s empowerment.

I think that anyone regardless of race, gender, geographic location, or any other consideration, if they feel that they are entitled to become a parent of more than 2 children, then they are irresponsibly contributing to population explosion. 

It’s okay to have your own personal opinions about the decisions other individuals make for themselves. But keep in mind that many women around the world are not in charge of how many children they have, either because they don’t have access to affordable or reliable birth control, their birth control fails, they are in a relationship where they have no decision-making power, etc. And regardless of how you personally feel, consider what you would like to have happen to stop people from having more than two children. Would you want to live in a world that operated the way China did during its one-child policy, with people being forcibly sterilized, having their pregnancies terminated without their consent, or penalized in ways that hurt their children? We wouldn’t!

What about “population management”? 

This still has the same top-down connotation that “population control” has, implying that governments should be “managing” the personal decisions people make about their own fertility in the name of slowing population growth. We believe that everyone should be able to make their own reproductive decisions, without interference from government—whether that means having fewer or no children or having a large number of children. Fortunately, for the sake of achieving sustainable development goals, when women are given complete control over their own fertility, they have, on average, small families.

How do we join in stopping the Global Gag Rule?

There’s a bill in both houses of Congress that would end the Global Gag Rule permanently, called the Global HER Act. Currently, the Global Gag Rule is an executive action, meaning that the president can decide on his (so far, it’s always been a man) own whether to enact or rescind the policy. And every time the presidency switches parties, that happens, with Republicans reinstating it and Democrats rescinding it. The Global HER Act would legislatively repeal the Global Gag Rule for good.

How does one respond to the anti-choice (abortion) movement that is gaining momentum in the U.S.? 

With forceful opposition! We are heavily involved in attempts to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would basically codify Roe, resuming the right to abortion nationwide. Population Connection Action Fund, the sister organization of Population Connection, has been working this entire election cycle to keep incumbent candidates in office who support abortion rights and to replace the ones who don’t. In the meantime, while abortion rights are being decided at the state level, it’s incredibly important to stay informed about the positions of the legislatures and governors in the state where you live and make a ruckus if an abortion ban is introduced and/or signed into law.

How is the Dobbs decision being dealt with in conversation about family planning? 

Please see answer above.


Population Trends, Sustainable Development, and the Climate Crisis

What are the predictions for when global population levels and USA population levels will go down?  

The UN Population Division’s medium (most likely) projection is that the world population will peak in 2086 at 10.4 billion, before beginning a slow decline.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the U.S. population will reach 400 million in 2058. The UN Population Division, by contrast, projects that the U.S. population will be 380 million in 2058 and 394 million in 2100 (and still growing).

What is your advice on speaking with people who are more concerned that slowing population growth will create labor shortages as the population ages (look at Japan!) 

Economic policies can be adjusted, planetary limits cannot. Our current economic structure is relatively new and can be changed to fit our demographic reality.

Additionally, there are many people who would like to be part of the labor force but are left out due to caregiving duties, disability, place of residence, etc. We should include them and offer flexible schedules and workplace accommodations.

Life expectancy at age 65 has increased by about 6 years since 1950 (Social Security was first introduced in 1935, when life expectancy was even lower). Population Connection doesn’t have an official policy on retirement age, but the increase in the number of years the average person is expected to live in retirement warrants consideration. Greater investment in preventive healthcare is key to keep older people healthy and capable of participating in society.

And yes, look at Japan —a rapidly aging country that is coping just fine. If things get bad, they could relax their borders a little and allow the immigration of young people.

If climate change is not taken into account in projections, how can we take them seriously? 

UN population projections are based on historical data, so a fair amount of assumptions are used to form the basis of our understandings about the growth trajectory of populations, fertility declines, and so on. The impacts of climate change, like those of the pandemic, are very relevant to this discussion, no doubt, but it’s just not possible to accurately predict how climate change will impact population dynamics. We don’t yet know how much the planet will warm (although it’s not looking good), how bad the impacts will be, and how these will affect fertility and death rates.

Do any of the population models factor in rising energy costs (esp. for diesel fuel, and natural gas/fertilizer) and climate impacts on global food production? Already about 2 billion are estimated to be on the verge of starvation. 

Not that we’re aware of.

The level of sustainable consumption is a function of the total population. Has anyone studied this relationship?

One of the most important relationships between population and the environment is between consumption rates (and environmental impact) and level of affluence. Globally, increases in affluence augment resource use and pollutant emissions. This relationship exists because our economies rely upon consumption to thrive; not because a better standard of living inherently destroys the environment. Here’s an article from Nature Communications for more info.


Organizations in the Movement

I thought the foundation of Bill and Melinda Gates is interested in population issues.  Are they are contributing to the effort to fund programs? 

Yes, the Gates Foundation is a large international family planning donor. The foundation is the founder and major sponsor of the International Conference on Family Planning, which is happening next week (November 14-17), in Thailand. Four of our staff and one of our board members will be there, hosting an exhibit booth and speaking on a panel!

Do you know of like-minded organizations working in Kibera, Kenya?  

No, but the African Population and Health Research Center is in Nairobi, so they might!


Additional Questions

Does anyone have any thoughts about the increasing number of children taking puberty suppressants and people getting bottom surgery that produces sterility?

This is beyond our scope. We’re focused on increasing access to comprehensive, quality reproductive health care and meeting unmet needs for voluntary family planning globally.

Immigration into the US is the primary driver of US population growth, as I understand it.  How do we limit immigration (so that we limit over-consumption) without looking like we’re being racist? 

Immigration is a very complex topic with major ethical implications. The climate crisis and worsening resource shortage are expected to displace many more people, so this is not the time to advocate for tighter borders. In addition, movement of people from high- to low-fertility countries can actually help slow global population growth as people tend to adjust their family size ideals to local norms.

The best way to limit migration is by reducing the push factors that force people to leave their home countries. So more foreign aid and the development of policies that alleviate poverty, reduce emissions, build climate resilience, advance gender equality, etc.

In terms of limiting overconsumption, we need to do just that, and not rely on limiting population size alone. The U.S. is one of the worst over consumers in the world — according to the Global Footprint Network, if everyone lived like the average U.S. citizen, we’d need five Earths to sustain our demand without destroying the environment. We all need to take responsibility and do what we can to shrink our individual footprints, including reducing our consumption of animal products, flying and driving less, etc. Policy change that would facilitate this necessary behavior change, for example, more affordable/accessible public transport, is key too. Governments need to lead the way in reducing overconsumption, but we all have a part to play.

Click Photo for Speaker's Bio

Olivia Nater

Communications Manager

Marian Starkey

Vice President for Communications

Hannah Evans

Senior Analyst