NPG Releases New Forum Paper: Our Plundered Planet and a Future of Less

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Rejecting the prevailing faith in growth, expert Walter Youngquist comments on resource and population trends – and the precarious balance between them.

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We are headed toward a future of less for every single non-renewable resource that we have known in history.

As Americans prepare for another summer of road trips – and feel the inevitable pain at the gas pump, in the second half of July Negative Population Growth (NPG) will release a new Forum paper highlighting the links between U.S. population growth and the rising scarcity of natural resources, particularly fossil fuels.

In the new publication, veteran NPG commentator Walter Youngquist draws on lengthy professional experience as a petroleum geologist to predict a grim future for the American way of life. Characteristically counter-cultural, Youngquist’s essay rejects the prevalent conviction that perpetual economic growth and ever-rising prosperity are permanent entitlements of Americans. Even his title – Our Plundered Planet and a Future of Less – rings a striking chord with those concerned with the future of our world and its resources.

Incorporating his own vast experience, Youngquist expands upon the troublesome conclusions reached by other leading experts and NPG contributors: Chris Clugston on rising scarcity of non-renewable resources (NNRs), Lester Brown on world food production that now lags population growth, and former NPG advisor and author Lindsey Grant on the now-peaking production of fossil fuels.

At the essay’s conclusion, Youngquist notes: “We are headed toward a future of less for every single non-renewable resource that we have known in history.” His analysis goes beyond just minerals and fuels, including resources that are non-renewable in the lifetime of humans – like top soil (lost to erosion and acidification from overuse of nitrogen fertilizers) and fresh water (through depletion of snowmelt and squandering of massive ancient aquifers).

Echoing NPG, Youngquist urges prompt reduction of population to an ecologically-sustainable size and a transition to a no-growth, steady-state economy. He finds that if present trends in consumption persist, reduction of human population may come about by nature’s harsher method of pruning: starvation and disease amid social turmoil.

NPG President Donald Mann had strong praise for Youngquist’s work, noting: “While most Americans have embraced the idea of ‘green’ and ‘low-consumption’ lifestyles, the vast majority still have not recognized the root cause of the problems we face. At over 318 million people, the United States is unsustainably overpopulated – and we are continuing to grow by an average of nearly 2.5 million people per year. Even with reductions and re-usage programs, there are simply more consumers than there are resources.” He added: “By distributing Youngquist’s perceptive work, NPG hopes this alarming reality will reach more of our nation’s citizens and elected officials: we must slow, halt, and eventually reverse U.S. population growth until we reach a much smaller, truly sustainable level.”

Founded in 1972, NPG is a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to educating the American public and political leaders regarding the damaging effects of population growth. We believe that our nation is already vastly overpopulated in terms of the long-range carrying capacity of its resources and environment. NPG advocates the adoption of its Proposed National Population Policy, with the goal of eventually stabilizing U.S. population at a sustainable level – far lower than today’s. We do not simply identify the problems – we propose solutions. For more information, visit our website at

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Craig Lewis

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