This month, the human population passes seven billion. The cover of Prospect asks “Too many people?” and the answer I have given is that there probably will be, if governments don’t do more than they have in the past two decades.
I am not, as I have said in that argument, naturally inclined to the view that people will be overwhelmed by trends they have set in motion, and I’d give the species credit for ingenuity in devising solutions. Nor is pessimism the tone of Nick Carn’s argument at the start of our special report, on how investors might take account of the rising numbers. But as Professor Malcolm Potts and others argue persuasively, governments’ unwillingness to address the problem means that the projections are higher than they need be, at the expense of the environment and some of the world’s poorest people. As one former minister said to me: “Population is the one subject that just never comes up.”