Are there too many people on our planet?

Since we launched this series six months ago, we’ve been inundated with questions from readers about what can be done to address ever-increasing population growth around the globe. The world’s population is on track to hit 8bn in 2023, and almost 10bn by 2050 – all of which means an increasing strain on resources, and more destruction of our natural environment.

The urgency was emphasised this week when a landmark UN report indicated that we have little more than a decade to take decisive action to confront global warming.

As ever, there are crumbs of comfort. In climate news, a Berlin startup has offered €1m (£870,000) to save the ancient Hambach forest from coal mining – and they are not the only tree huggers we have met this week.

In southern Africa, Nicola Davis reported on how effective family planning services and contraceptive education has caused a country with one of the highest fertility rates in the world to decisively reverse the trend.

Of course, not everywhere is overpopulated. Some states still feel they need all the people they can get. In Guinea-Bissau, Ruth Maclean found there is no panic about population growth – in fact, there is room for more people to be welcomed. About 7,000 refugees are due to become newly minted citizens.

For those refugees still stranded in European camps, such as on Lesbos, the upside can seem pretty much non-existent. But Lorenzo Tondo has found a heartwarming story in the shape of an Iraqi-Danish man, Salam Aldeen, who has built a playground for 3,000 children stranded there.

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[This piece was published on 12/10/18]