Several PAI staff attended the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign annual Tribute Dinner yesterday evening, where Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was honored for his “leadership in support of the U.S. International Affairs Budget.” Surprisingly, in his remarks, Secretary Gates mentioned population as an important factor in countries’ stability (emphasis mine):
We also know that over the next 20 years certain pressures –
population, resource, energy, climate, economic, and environmental –
could combine with rapid cultural, social, and technological change to
produce new sources of deprivation, rage, and instability. We face now,
and will inevitably face in the future, rising powers discontented with
the international status quo, possessing new wealth and ambition, and
seeking new and more powerful weapons. But, overall, looking ahead, I
believe the most persistent and potentially dangerous threats will come
less from emerging ambitious states, than from failing ones that cannot
meet the basic needs – much less the aspirations – of their people.
Another voice that emphasized population recently, was John Flicker, president of the Audubon Society. On World Population Day, July 11th, he wrote an editorial emphasizing population‘s role in climate change:
in most discussions of the global warming challenge, the issue of human
population growth is conspicuously absent, even though the growth of
the human family over the next generation and beyond will be a critical
factor in determining the magnitude of the problem and our ability to
Mr. Flicker then points to voluntary family
planning, education for girls, and economic opportunities for women as
proven ways to reduce population and make communities — and the world
We applaud Secretary Gates and John Flicker for addressing these important issues.
For more information about population, development, security, and family planning, please check out The Shape of Things to Come: Why Age Structure Matters for a Safer, More Equitable World.