John Seager, president and CEO of Population Connection, spoke in the Winifred Moore Auditorium at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. The International Year of Human Rights, Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability (WSES), and the women’s studies and environment classes sponsored the free event.
During the lecture, Seager discussed the issue of human population growth and the connections it has to poverty, women’s rights, the economy, the environment, global justice and civil unrest.
The world population recently exceeded 7 billion people—up from 1 billion just three generations ago, Seager said.
“Human population growth is one of the greatest challenges of our time,” Seager said.
One of the keys to human population growth, Seager said, is family planning in developing countries. There are 250 million women who would like to limit the number of children they have, but can’t or don’t know how.
“Most women, when given a choice, choose smaller families,” Seager said.
Seager outlined the actions of Iran’s family planning system, which lowered the average number of children being born per woman from 6.5 to 2 children in just 16 years.
Among the actions of Iran’s family planning system’s were education of women in schools, advertising to promote smaller families, and the availability of contraceptives like condoms and birth control pills.
Seager also addressed varying levels of consumption in developed countries like the United States compared to less developed countries. If everyone on earth had the diet of a typical American, Seager said, only 2 billion people would have food. If everyone ate the diet of a typical Indian, though, there would be enough food to feed everyone on earth.
Adjunct professor in the department of biological sciences Jeff DePew said he has been working for three years to get a representative from Population Connection to speak at Webster. He said Seager’s speech fit both his environment class and the women’s studies classes.
Chelse Williams, an alumna who graduated last May, said while she had heard some of the issues before, she appreciated the way Seager presented the information.
“I need to hear something like in two generations or one generation, we can make something happen,” Williams said.
Seager said the world population is still on the rise, and while the United States is making some good changes, not enough is being done globally.
“It’s all a question of how we want to live and how we want others to live,” Seager said. “Human population growth is something we know how to address.”