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Population Taboo

Skirting the Truth on World Population Day

Yesterday, July 11, was World Population Day, marked by a disappointing dearth of news reports and commentary about the most important population issue of our time: we are in overshoot and need to shrink our numbers.

Yesterday in my new podcast, Paving Paradise, I spotlighted the United Nations (the organization that started this whole World Population Day business) for tap-dancing around overpopulation. Reluctant to honor my own work here on the Wall of Shame, I was getting desperate to find some honesty in yesterday’s media about our predicament. The Center for Biological Diversity’s Leigh Moyer came to the rescue with this great piece over at Medium:

World Population Day, Women and… Wolves?

Leigh began with a simple piece of information that was not widely highlighted yesterday:

“Today is World Population Day, and while it might not be topping the list of most-beloved — or even vaguely-well-known — holidays, it’s one that affects all of us from women to wolves. Stay with me here: As human population grows (at a rate of 227,000 people every day), wildlife like wolves increasingly find themselves more crowded out and pushed closer and closer to the brink of extinction.”

But what you really have to love is this:

“While the holiday isn’t listed in most calendars and definitely isn’t a day off from work, it should be a reminder that the population problem still persists. Considering we’ve added 2.2 billion people to the planet since World Population Day started, maybe it’s time for a bit more fanfare around this holiday.”

Yes, yes, yes. I’ll have what she’s having!

I’m not a fan of the current king of standing up against political correctness. But there are some cases where being PC is killing us, and overpopulation is the king of that category. So shame on the United Nations, and that includes Secretary-General Ban-Ki-Moon, for NO mention of our swelling numbers. And hurrah for Medium, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Leigh Moyer, for boldly giving us the truth. And guess what? I’m quite certain Medium did not lose subscribers or advertisers, and I’m sure CBD gained donors rather than losing them.

The official World Population Day theme this year was “investing in teenage girls.” It’s okay, and appropriate, to put a skirt on it, but it is not okay to skirt the issue. Moyer was one of the few, perhaps the only, writers who related this year’s theme to some of the lunacy taking place in the U.S.:

“While the rate of unintended pregnancy has recently dropped in the United States, it’s still incredibly high — the highest of any industrialized nation, with nearly half of all pregnancies unintended. And more often than not, the brunt of the blame and the consequences of those pregnancies are borne by women. Meanwhile, lawmakers are doing everything they can to restrict reproductive healthcare, including education and access to contraception. When it comes to what’s best for women (and wildlife), that’s the opposite of what we want to do.”

She adroitly summed it up with words I wish I had said:

“…while human population doubled in the last fifty years, wildlife populations have been cut in half…. Despite this, most environmentalists are still letting World Population Day pass by unnoticed. And that’s a big problem. We can fight to curb climate change, stop habitat loss and clean up pollution, but until we tackle the root of the problem (that’s well… us), it’ll stay an uphill battle that we can’t win.”

And she included this rarely communicated truth:

“…here’s the secret about World Population Day, women and wolves: There are solutions that are good for people and the planet.”

Her solutions aren’t rocket science. They’re not surprising. And the list needs to be expanded. But they are a good start. Here’s the most important take-away:

“…we can only solve the problem as long as we’re willing to talk about it.”

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Dave Gardner

Producer of the documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. Dave writes and speaks regularly on the subject of growth addiction, including the pro-growth media bias that perpetuates prosperity-from-growth mythology.

Comments (1)

  • Avatar

    Thom Hawkins


    Too Clever

    Every birth a tragedy;
    every death a gift.
    This is what we’ve come to.
    We cannot help ourselves.

    A few hundred years ago
    it was not so.
    Then we had a chance,
    then we had some room
    and time was earth’s domain.

    We weren’t paying attention.
    Signs escaped our notice,
    brutality and carelessness
    in our blood,
    tools dripping blood
    as though we had just
    come down from the trees
    and forgotten how to live.

    But we couldn’t stay arboreal
    and we can’t stop expanding.
    Something controls us
    that we don’t understand,
    can’t understand,
    don’t want to understand.

    If we understood,
    we still wouldn’t stop.
    We are too clever
    to be powerless.

    Thom Hawkins


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