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Earth is in trouble: Population or consumption—choices

In 2011, we must make choices and we MUST make them soon!  More and more Americans and humans around the world understand the ‘human predicament’ as to overpopulation.
 
No matter how we support environmental causes, saving the children, saving the animals or any ‘cause’ you may follow with passion, Dr. Paul Ehrlich said, “All causes are lost causes without limiting human population.”
 
In this continuing series, Marilyn Hempel, director of www.populationpress.org brings these realities home in her latest edition of Population Press.
 
What are we facing Ms. Hempel?
 
Paul and Anne Ehrlich put it so clearly, “The problem is simple: too many people consuming too much stuff.” 
 
“But when we delve into human behavior, it’s complicated,” Hempel said. “Is human behavior biologically or socially driven?   Unfortunately, “either/or” questions are almost always misleading. 
 
“Understanding problems and crafting good solutions are seldom simple.  There is no single cause of destructive behavior, nor is there one solution that will make us all behave sustainably.  But during periods of crisis or political unrest, many people act like either/or thinking is necessary.  As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed, “The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity.”
 
“The debate among environmental and sustainability advocates still rages.  Which is more important—overpopulation or overconsumption?  It has divided friends, colleagues and organizations.  The rhetoric recently reached new heights (or lows) when environmental author Fred Pearce wrote on World Population Day,
 
“Some greens think all efforts to save the world are doomed unless we ‘do something’ about population growth.  This is nonsense.  It stinks!”  He goes on to state that because more women are feeling empowered these days, population growth will take care of itself; overconsumption is the only “proper target for environmentalists.”
 
“Uncivil hyper-inflated rhetoric appears to be the latest fad in public conversation these days. Fred, and all of us, are entitled to our own opinions—we are not entitled to our own facts.  In this Population Press, we present both.  But the facts are paramount.
 
Fact 1: Yes, human population growth is slowing, but the world still adds 77 to 80 million more people each year. [On our way to adding 2 to 3 billion by mid century]  The growth has not stopped and the slowing has stalled, as shown by the United Nations and Population Reference Bureau 2010 data, chars and reports. (contained in this report at www.populationpress.org)
 
Fact 2: Women have become empowered and fertility rates have dropped due in significant part to the extraordinary work of UNFPA staff and all the dedicated health services people who are in the field trying to improve the lives of women and girls.  Many of them have risked their lives to help others.
 
Fact 3: Yes, overconsumption is a major problem, especially in wealthy countries. Many in the ‘voluntary simplicity’ and sustainability movements have spent years trying to elucidate the model an alternative sustainable lifestyle.  We need to keep doing that.
 
“The ‘population or consumption’ debate is worse than silly.  It pits us against us friends.  There are way too few of us working on sustainability as it is.  To lose our solidity is suicidal.  We don’t have the time or energy to spend fighting amongst ourselves.  Earth is in trouble!  Civilization is in trouble.  As a global community, we need to stop population growth and stop overconsumption.  We need to stop using fossil fuels before we further disrupt the global climate that keeps us alive.
 
“We need to continue to help women and girls reach their full potential (family planning services are a crucial part of that).  We need to conserve precious natural resources.  We need to eliminate poverty.  We need to restore wild places and make space for other species.  We need to work together.”
 
"The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct.  To say, as many do, that the difficulties of nations are not due to people, but to poor ideology and land-use management is sophistic.”  Harvard scholar and biologist E.O. Wilson
 
Contact Marilyn Hempel at www.populationpress.org  or info@populationpress.org
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