Population: The Multiplier of Everything Else
August 17, 2010
When it comes to controversial issues, population is in a class by itself.
Advocates and activists working to reduce global population growth and size are attacked by the Left for supposedly ignoring human-rights issues, glossing over Western overconsumption, or even seeking to reduce the number of people of color. They are attacked by the Right for supposedly favoring widespread abortion, promoting promiscuity via sex education, or wanting to harm economic growth. Others think the problem has been solved, or believe that the real problem is that we have a shortage of people (the so-called “birth dearth”). Still others think the population problem will solve itself, or that technological innovations will make our numbers irrelevant.
One thing is certain: The planet and its resources are finite, and it cannot support an infinite population of humans or any other species.
A second thing is also certain: The issue of population is too important to avoid just because it is controversial.
This is a chapter from The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises (2010).