Tackling the Population Taboo: Creating a Sustainable Future for Children

Presented by Having Kids, Sustainable GW, and the Environmental and Energy Management Institute, The George Washington University

congested traffic on a two-way highway

The world’s human population reached one billion in 1804. We’ve added our most recent billion in only 12 years. Our numbers have doubled since 1972. We’ll surpass 7.7 billion this year and are projected to reach at least 11 billion by 2100.

Yet the topic of human population is often considered taboo, if considered at all. There is fear that any discussion is a slippery slope for human rights violations, while temporal myopia hampers engagement.

This forum seeks positive, achievable, and inclusive solutions to the greatest driver of environmental impact (including climate change and species extinction) and inequality: unsustainable human growth.

We will discuss how to raise awareness and develop context-appropriate solutions, as well as explore questions such as:

  • What can federal, state, and local government actions should be considered? Changes to tax and family planning policies?
  • How can the Green New Deal be more effective?
  • What is our role, if any, in helping other countries? What can we learn from other countries?
  • How much can we accomplish via incentives, instead of penalties?
  • To what extent can improvements in other areas (empowering women, reducing poverty, improving education…) help with population as well?
  • How can we employ messaging that is effective, and not counterproductive?
  • Do we need a new framework for procreative ethics? New social norms? A broader concept of family?

Keynote speaker: Travis Rieder, PhD, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Other speakers include:

  • Ashley Berke, Director of Communications, Having Kids
  • N. Kate Cho, The Challenge Initiative, an urban family planning program housed at the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Reproductive Health
  • Brian Czech, PhD, Executive Director, Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE)
  • Leilani Münter, Race Car Driver and Environmental Activist
  • Alexandra Paul, Actress and Population Activist
  • Willow Phelps, Age 11, Suing Federal Government Over Climate Change
  • Dr. Karen I. Shragg, Naturalist and Children’s Book Author
  • Terry Spahr, Executive Director, Earth Overshoot; Producer, 8 Billion Angels
  • Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network; Director of Global Green's DC Office
  • Tommy Wells, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment

Moderated by: Maureen Cohen Harrington, Special Projects Manager, Having Kids

This event is free and open to the public