Editor’s Choice: Top 3 Articles on Population

For U.N. World Population Day, here are three of Orion’s best articles on the challenges of overpopulation:​

State of the Species by Charles Mann.
Art by The Petri Island Project
November/December 2012  (This essay was a finalist for a 2013 National Magazine Award in the Essay category.)

The problem with environmentalists, Lynn Margulis used to say, is that they think conservation has something to do with biological reality. A researcher who specialized in cells and microorganisms, Margulis was one of the most important biologists in the last half century—she literally helped to reorder the tree of life, convincing her colleagues that it did not consist of two kingdoms (plants and animals), but five or even six (plants, animals, fungi, protists, and two types of bacteria). Read more.



Crowded Planet: A Conversation with Alan Weisman. Art by Alain Guiget.
September/October 2013  

Over the course of the past one hundred years, we humans have grown in population at a rate rarely seen outside of a petri dish. Alan Weisman, author of the best-selling The World Without Us, spent two years traveling to twenty nations to investigate what this population explosion means for our species as well as those we share the planet with—and, most importantly, what we can do about it. Read more



The Centroid
 by Jeremy Miller. Photo by John Trotter
March/April 2013  

On a warm day in March 2011, I find myself in the back seat of a white, government-issue Chevy Suburban, rolling over spongy pasturelands in the sparsely populated foothills of the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri. The vehicle is being piloted by Brian Ward, a geodetic advisor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dave Doyle, the chief surveyor with NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey division, sits in the passenger seat, looking intently at a dashboard-mounted GPS screen. “Almost there. Just a little farther on,” Doyle mutters as Ward slaloms through an agitated herd of beef cattle. Read more.