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
In this continuing series, Marilyn Hempel, director of www.populationpress.org
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
“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