New NPG Forum Paper Surveys the Role of Land in Global Warming

Following the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on land, how land use contributes to climate change and how climate change affects land, Negative Population Growth, Inc., has announced the release of a new Forum Paper titled It’s Complicated: The Role of Land in Global Warming, by Edwin S. Rubenstein.

Of the report, Rubenstein notes: “Humans have harnessed land to become the highly successful species we are today. But our destructive patterns of land use – particularly agriculture, deforestation, and the development of wetlands – now contribute 23% of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions.” He goes on to add: “Virtually every idea and concept in Climate Change and Land has been discussed by NPG and other population control groups. The only thing missing is, well, our main thing: the need to reduce global population to halt the degradation of the Earth’s land and water resources.”

The report touches on many topics in relation to climate change. From new forests (by way of repurposed crop land) to suggested dietary changes, to solar or wind power options (that would destroy innumerable natural habitats) the opportunities suggested to significantly affect climate change are not enough, and in some instances could make matters worse. Rubenstein believes: “We have reached a breaking point with the land itself and its ability to sustain human population at its current level.” He adds: “The flow of immigration from hot, poor countries to temperate relatively wealthy ones is already redefining politics in the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world. Population pressures emanating from the Middle East are trivial alongside those percolating in Africa.”

In conclusion, Rubenstein writes: “Land is both a source and a sink for greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming erodes the ability of land to grow the trees and plants needed to remove atmospheric emissions, as well as the crops required to feed a growing population. Farmers respond by increasing the use of chemical fertilizers or putting new land under cultivation. Both activities increase global warming. A vicious cycle is in place. One way or another the cycle will end. Will it take a calamity marked by starvation, mass migration, and war, or will it be a soft landing guided by reforestation, dietary change, and population control?”

NPG Executive Vice President Craig Lewis applauds Rubenstein’s argument that population size needs to be part of the conversation and solution, stating: “Ed’s capacity to shine a light on the missed opportunity to talk about population size and growth within the climate change discussion is a much-needed reminder that significant change is possible. We believe that the U.S. – with its high population and highest per-capita carbon footprint – must act now to slow, halt, and eventually reverse population growth and that such action would directly and positively affect climate change.”

Founded in 1972, NPG is a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to educating the American public and political leaders regarding the damaging effects of population growth. We believe that our nation is already vastly overpopulated in terms of the long-range carrying capacity of its resources and environment. NPG advocates the adoption of its Proposed National Population Policy, with the goal of eventually stabilizing U.S. population at a sustainable level – far lower than today’s. We do not simply identify the problems – we propose solutions. For more information, visit our website at, follow us on Facebook @NegativePopulationGrowth or follow us on Twitter @npg_org.

Negative Population Growth


Our destructive patterns of land use – particularly agriculture, deforestation, and the development of wetlands – now contribute 23% of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions.