Overpopulation It took all of recorded history until 1830 for world population to reach one billion; by 1930 we were at two billion; by 1960, three billion; 1975, four billion; 1986, five billion; and in 1999 we crossed the six billion mark. Advances in medical technology have led to remarkable extensions of human life in most of the world, as well as substantial improvements in reducing child and maternal mortality and morbidity. There can be no question that the world is paying a costly environmental and ecological price for this prodigious proliferation of human growth. Our forests are declining, our topsoil is eroding, our deserts are expanding, and our climate is undergoing radical change. We are looking at resource shortages – including severe scarcity of water and food in many developing regions. We are today a world of 6.2 billion people, growing by 78 million each year. Ninety-seven percent of that growth occurs in the poorest countries. Rapid population growth is primarily attributable to enormous strides in lowering mortality through medical breakthroughs, mass inoculations and sanitary improvements. We have been less successful, however, in making a wide variety of effective, efficient and affordable methods of family planning universally accessible. This failure has led to rapid population growth accompanied by devastating environmental consequences. For example, in only the last 10 years, 600,000 square miles of forest have been cut down. Particularly alarming is the staggering loss of tropical rain forests - the source of much of many drugs that are indispensable in fighting deadly diseases, including cancer. Fifty percent of the earth’s last remaining rainforests are located today in just three countries: Indonesia, in Brazil, and in the Congo. None of these three countries has come up with a conservation plan to protect its share of these rapidly vanishing, vital environmental and ecological repositories. The problem is compounded by the fact that 70 percent of all developing world families depend upon wood as their sole source of energy. How can we tell a family to preserve its forest when their day-to-day lives and well being depend on wood – not only to provide warm meals but to protect themselves and their children from the ravages of bitter cold weather?