Sound Waters tackles overpopulation

For those who live amid the lush forests, picturesque farms and sweeping shores of Whidbey Island, world overpopulation might seem a remote worry. But with Earth’s population at 7 billion and climbing, many people wonder what number the planet can support.

John Seager turns the question around. “How many can’t we support?”

The answer he suggests is perhaps not the 9.2 million children who die every year from preventable diseases. Perhaps not the nearly 900 million who don’t have access to safe drinking water. And perhaps not the 2.5 billion who don’t have basic sanitation.

Seager is one of 89 presenters who will teach classes at the one-day Sound Waters University on South Whidbey, Saturday, Feb. 5.

Seager is president and chief executive officer of Population Connection, the world’s largest grassroots population organization based in Washington, D.C. His class is one of 65 on wide-ranging topics to be offered at the day-long, public university sponsored annually by WSU Beach Watchers of Island County.

This year for the first time, the event will be held at South Whidbey High School.

Seager’s class, “Population: How It Impacts Our Environment,” is one of several that will tackle big questions including climate change and the pollution of local marine waters by discarded pharmaceuticals. Others will deal with closer-to-home topics such as flyfishing, kayaking, wildlife photography, boating, glaciers, beavers, woodpeckers, mushrooms and native plants.

Registration opened Jan. 7, online at and continues through Friday, Jan. 28. The most popular classes fill fast and many people mark their calendars to pounce on the opening day sign-up.

Attendees pay $40 to register for any three of the day’s 65 classes, plus $7.50 for an optional box lunch. Registration includes the keynote speech by Professor Richard Kiel. The University of Washington researcher has tracked a seasonal spike in cooking spices that enter the marine waters of Puget Sound, in addition to other impacts of human activity on local marine waters.

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