Frosty Wooldridge


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Part 6: Our civilization in the cross hairs of relentless growth—what do we do?

“The power of population is so superior to the power of earth to produce subsistence to humanity that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.” Thomas Malthus 1798
In a brilliant work,  Kurt Dahl, “False Hope”, at , illustrates humanity’s overpopulation plight. 

If you are right, and the problem is overpopulation, then what can we do?

“The real challenge for population activists comes after convincing the listener that overpopulation is in fact the main driver of our looming disasters,” said Dahl. “So what, the listener asks, what can you possibly do about it? And I will admit that mostly the answers have not been good. But let me try anyway, and in the spirit of Mr. Brown's plan, call this Plan P 1.0. The four points of the plan:

Point1: Stop the artificial "either/or" debate between population activists and environmental activists. Common sense says we have to do both. The looming disasters we all face can only be averted by a radical reduction of consumption to sustainable levels. Without returning to the Stone Age, sustainable levels of consumption simply cannot be accomplished with an on-going population of over 9 billion. We must go Green aggressively and we must get smaller quickly. This could not be more obvious.

Point 2: The High Priests need to visit the Wizard of Oz and ask for some courage. Mr. Gore, Mr. Brown, and the all other Priests-with-portfolio need to begin to speak openly and accurately about the role of overpopulation and continued population growth. In the long run, nothing good can come from their continued misrepresentation of our challenges to the large following of people who trust them.

Point 3: In the spirit of Mr. Brown's passionate plea for a "wartime mobilization" of alternative energy, we could use a "wartime mobilization" increase in funding to the handful of organizations that are already trying hard to reduce population growth around the world. Increasing the contributions to these organizations by a factor of ten, would be a simple and painless way for the people of the "Good Club", and other wealthy Green activists to make a difference in population growth. See groups like The Population Media Center, World Population Balance, and The Population Connection to learn what they are doing and to contribute to their efforts. One way - immediately divert just one windmill's purchase price to these important organizations. Over the long run, three million dollars in their hands will reduce global carbon footprints by orders-of-magnitude more times than just one windmill.

Point 4: Now, for the hard part - the real taboo topic - and that is the discussion and exploration of one-child policies. But before your mind slams shut on the idea of one-child policies, based on whatever pre-conception you have, give me one or two more sentences to explain. First, one-child-policies do not necessarily mean "coercion". Policies can include a range from simple promotion and support of volunteerism, to changing tax codes to stop giving tax benefits for having more children, to outright financial disincentives for having more than one child.

More importantly, there are likely other innovative, acceptable and yet unexplored ideas that could significantly reduce fertility levels. But the problem in the here and now, is that there is no place for exploring these ideas. The missing piece, in getting to a point where even a discussion of the possible approaches can happen, is that there is no organization that champions the cause. There is no governmental agency, and there is no NGO (non-governmental organization) that supports exploring and promoting the one-child proposition.

So - point 4 - I believe that before anything significant can begin, someone somewhere needs to start a one-child NGO. (I've written a more extensive essay on this specific topic, read it here). Please open your mind to this possibility.

I suggest to you that these four points answer the question "What can be done?" in a practical, doable, and yet effective manner. It is at least a starting point.

The Conclusion

“Contrary to the positive enthusiasm of Mr. Gore, and the so-called workable solution of Mr. Brown, and the outright denial of Mr. Pearce, the reality is that we, all of us, are now in very dangerous territory,” said Dahl. “We need to replace the false hope that these leaders use to promote their personal agendas with straight talk about our challenges and choices. Only then will mankind shake off its apathy and its comfortable belief that eventually everything will be just fine. Only when this false hope is crushed, will we finally face the difficult choices that we have to make.

As Derrick Jensen, in his beautiful and insightful essay "Beyond Hope" writes:

"When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we're in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free - truly free - to honestly start working to resolve it. I would say that when hope dies, action begins."

“I hope he's right,” said Dahl.
Kurt Dahl may be reached at

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