Population Connection: ZPG Society

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Zero Population Growth Society

The ZPG Society honors members who have identified Population Connection as a beneficiary of their estates.

Since our early days as Zero Population Growth, we have sought progressive solutions to ending rapid population growth and its terrible consequences. This is our legacy for the planet. Will it be yours?

If you have already included Population Connection (or Zero Population Growth) in your estate plans, please contact Shauna Scherer, Director of Development, at (800) 767-1956 or sscherer@popconnect.org so that we may formally induct you into The ZPG Society!

We are proud to offer members of The ZPG Society lifetime subscriptions to our quarterly magazine. We are also pleased to honor members of The ZPG Society by featuring them in Population Connection magazine and on this page. If you are a member of The ZPG Society and would like to be featured, please contact Shauna Scherer at sscherer@popconnect.org.

 

A Lasting Legacy

Spotlight: Barbara Bird

Published in The Reporter, October 2011.

By Shauna Scherer

Bird.jpg

Barbara Bird of Virginia first realized the hazards of rapid population growth during college. A petition circulated the Fresno State campus in 1969, asking students to take the ZPG pledge. Barbara signed it and agreed that she would “stop at two” children so that she could help achieve zero population growth. In fact, Barbara chose not to have any children—now she jokingly says that friends with more than two children had her share.

Barbara grew up in Fresno, California. “Actually, I did a lot of growing up in London, Ontario in graduate school at the University of Western Ontario, and think I am still growing up. When people ask where I am from, I have to ask what ‘from’ means. I often joke and say planet earth.” Barbara travels extensively. She has visited all but three of the 50 states and she wants to see more of the U.S. in the future. Her favorite American destinations include New York City for the theater, New Orleans for music and food, and California. She’s visited Turkey, Syria, China, and the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific, as well as several countries in South America and Europe.

As for her environmental views, she says “I think my brother and I brought environmental concerns to our parents in the open-discussion format of our family dinners. My mother participated in the first Earth Day and was a good environmentalist at home. My dad, who sold sanitation chemicals to the food processing industry, was proud that his company’s products were environmentally friendly in their time. He also was a conservationist (habitat development for wildlife) with his sportsman club.”

As a professor of business at American University in Washington, DC, Barbara is interested in “right-sizing” human population. “How do you right-size without losing culture, quality of life, and your competitiveness?” she asks. Americans have long enjoyed a high standard of living—one to which people in emerging economies aspire. Americans will have to share more resources with the rest of the planet—an unsustainable proposition considering the rate of consumption in the United States.

Barbara looks at the population problem through the lens of economics. “Children are an annuity parents pay into for the rest of their lives,” Barbara said. With each child, parents make an economic decision with personal, environmental, and societal costs.

There are also economic solutions to some social problems: can we look to businesses that have right-sized for inspiration? First, she believes, we must increase the value of women and girls. When women have the knowledge and ability to choose the “right size” family, everyone benefits. She says investments must also be made in family planning so that the 215 million women worldwide who lack modern contraception can gain control over their own reproduction.

“Our climate problem is actually a population problem,” Barbara argues. So, too, are fresh water scarcity, inadequate standards of living, and so many other challenges people face globally. “We must reach a steady state to become sustainable,” she says. “I hope this happens through wise interventions at the policy level rather than through Malthusian events.”

To help us advocate for wise policies that will stabilize population, Barbara has declared Population Connection a beneficiary of her IRA. We are pleased to welcome her into The ZPG Society as recognition for her lifelong dedication to zero population growth and her commitment to a better future.

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