Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Population in 1970: 3,500 Population today: 25,000 Projected population in 2030: 50,000
A national park makes up about 97 per cent of the Galápagos Islands land area, offering protection to the incredible plant and animal species that live there. But wildlife has had to adapt to an increasing human presence ( below), as the remaining 3 per cent of land area is home to the islands’ human population, which has grown rapidly since tourism first came to the archipelago in the 1970s. With an economy growing at 20 per cent annually, more and more people want to move to the Galápagos, putting extra pressure on ecosystems.
Population is a factor in many environmental crises. There are too many humans on the planet for us to sustain ourselves long-term at current consumption levels. But fixing that doesn’t mean imposing draconian one-child policies, or waiting until war, pandemic or famine adjust the scales. We can rebalance the calculus with policies that liberate women and reduce economic inequality. With the alternative being a Malthusian catastrophe, what have we got to lose?
FIND OUT MORE
Look out for Population with Chris Packham, part of the BBC’s ‘Our Planet Matters’ season. O Global Footprint Network: footprintnetwork.org