Just a huge reduction would be enough. Humanity should be reduced by 50%, which is still more than 3.5 billion human beings and then maintained to this level; then all animal species would recover quickly.
Fifty years ago, I concluded that the best thing for the planet would be a peaceful phase-out of human existence. We’re causing the extinction of hundreds of thousands of other species. With us gone, I believe ecosystems will be restored and there will be enough of everything. No more fighting over resources. The idea wasn’t as well received as I had hoped.
My journey to advocating for voluntary human extinction began at school. I was born in the post-war baby boom in a small desert town in Oregon, in the US. There were more new students than the elementary school could cope with, so classes overflowed into churches. In my fourth year, we were taught in the county library; people checked out books as we learned. High school was the same: the cafeteria had to be converted into classrooms. There just weren’t enough resources – a situation that remains the same as we boomers enter our final decades.
After an involuntary stint in the army, I read Paul Ehrlich’s book Population Bomb, which argued that overpopulation would lead to food shortages and famine, and soon joined a movement called Zero Population Growth. Their slogan was Stop at Two, but it didn’t take much maths to work out that this would take too long. We were already overpopulated at 3.7 billion: instead of stopping at two children, we needed to stop at once.