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Environmental Activists Speak Out Globally in New Awareness Campaign

February 11, 2015

An international environmental activist network is giving away more than four thousand copies of a dramatic new coffee table book beginning February 16th, 2015. Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) features more than 300 pages of stunning, full-spread photography and is the centerpiece of the 2015 Global Population Speak Out (“Speak Out”).

Speak Out uses social media, word-of-mouth and direct action to engage opinion-leaders, scientists and citizens of the world to respond creatively to environmental degradation. Speak Out emphasizes elements of environmental protection that are rarely discussed: promoting human rights and human health as strong, indispensable solutions to preserving the rights of other species to exist and the health of the planet.

“Speak Out works to equip those already engaged in addressing environmental concerns with strong materials and messages to help them raise awareness and catalyze change,” says Joe Bish, Director of Issues Advocacy at Population Media Center, one of the organizations working on Speak Out. “We are really looking forward to crowd-sourced, creative ideas for how to put this amazing book to work as an agent of positive change.”

Speak Out organizers are granting the free copies of OVER to people and organizations around the world who can be ambassadors of information and inspiration, and promise personalized delivery to policymakers, opinion leaders, activists, allied organizations, and other audiences.

OVER is a large format book, weighing over six pounds, and the production and photographic quality are beautiful. Best-selling author Alan Weisman has described the images as “relentless” and “compelling,” but the scenes depicted throughout much of the book are woven together to create an experience perhaps better described as disturbing.

In addition to an emotionally intense opening photo-parable, the book contains photo essays of pertinent subjects such as Demographic Explosion, Human Tide, Urban Animal, Feeding Frenzy, Material World, Trashing the Planet, Wildlife Lost, Energy Blight, Foul Water, Darkening Skies, and Climate Change. These picture essays are framed by a foreword, introduction, and afterword written by renowned women’s rights, population, and conservation experts. A nice touch at the end is a hopeful parable redux, which offers a positive vision for the future to readers.

Many of the subjects are topics that are often discussed by environmentalists around the world: materialism, consumption, pollution, fossil fuels, carbon footprints, and more. But OVER and Speak Out purposefully join two ever-present parts of environmentalism together: the number of the human species and our socio-economic behaviors. The book and the campaign intentionally move beyond tired arguments that only one side of the equation matters and pictorially depicts the importance of both the number of people and the way people live.

Speak Out organizers hope that the book and accompanying online tools — such as sharable postcards, videos, activist sign-ups — will help spur conversation and increase awareness. But they are also relying on the positive and inspirational solutions presented by the campaign to counter-balance the heavy nature, both literally and figuratively, of this powerful book.

“The world population is increasing by over 220,00 people per day — that is at least 9,000 more people every hour,” says Bish. “We have come to expect the Earth to automatically and easily provide land, food, shelter and other resources for these fellow people, plus all of us already here, even as we terribly mistreat the natural world and our fellow species. With 4,000 copies of this book — which is as large and dramatic as the problems we face as a global community, we hope to spark a new environmental awareness.”

The Speak Out campaign emphasizes that human population size and growth are not intractable environmental issues. Rather, global population stabilization, achieved through pursuit and realization of a progressive human rights agenda, can be a powerful contributor to solving today’s most pressing ecological and social challenges.

By advocating for, and achieving, improvements in human health and human rights — things we should be doing anyway to improve individual lives, such as primary education for all children, improving the status of women and girls around the world, and ensuring access to family planning information and services to all adults — the global community will also set the stage for early global population stabilization. The United Nations’ lowest population projections show possible global population stabilization as soon as the year 2049.

Speak Out has been an ongoing initiative by Population Media Center and Population Institute that has recruited substantial numbers of world-class scientists, academicians, opinion-leaders — and thousands of lay environmentalists and concerned citizens — to help bring international attention to the crises posed by overdevelopment and human population size and growth. Both organizations work in unique ways to promote issues such as gender equality, family planning, reproductive health, and maternal and child health.

“The power of Speak Out is in the global network of organizations and individuals who participate, bringing their strengths, expertise, and connections to large numbers of other activist organizations and motivated individuals,” says Bish.


Global Population Speak Out (Speak Out) unites world-class scientists, academicians, opinion-leaders – and thousands of lay environmentalists and concerned citizens – to help bring international attention to the crises posed by overdevelopment and human population size and growth. Speak Out is jointly administered by Population Media Center and Population Institute.

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