#32 Around the Campfire; A Few Things We Can Do to Freeze and Then Lower Man’s Population
Lisa Hymas, senior editor at Grist, features an excellent series on human overpopulation. Look for her nicely done summary of Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife, “Stop the ‘man swarm,’ save the wild world” appearing in Grist’s “7 Billion” series.
“A Few Things We Can Do to Freeze and then Lower Man’s Population”
“Do not let us be blamed by our descendants for not trying.”
–Sir Charles Galton Darwin
I’m happy with the welcome my new book Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife has gotten in sundry fields. For those of you who haven’t yet read it, I’d like to show that while it has doom and gloom galore, it is also full of steps we can take to bring our population down to what Earth can house without gobbling up everything wild. What follows in this “Campfire” are a few of these steps. I may lay out others in a later “Campfire.” This list of steps is not all my doing, by the way; I had help, most of all from Phil Cafaro of Progressives for Immigration Reform.
SET A GOAL OF ZERO POPULATION GROWTH BY THE EARLIEST DOABLE DATE. SET A POPULATION CEILING FOR THE UNITED STATES THAT WE WILL NOT GO BEYOND (325 MILLION?). THE SAME NEEDS TO BE DONE FOR OTHER COUNTRIES BY THEIR CITIZENS.
Setting goals comes first. This is run-of-the-mill planning. Making up our minds to stop population growth by a set time at a set number leads to the need to lower births and to cap immigration. For the sake of some kind of target, I’ll call for a population of the United States of no more than 325 million (we are now at 310 million), with zero population growth gained by 2025. It would be better if it could be lower than this. And we should work to lower it after 2025. How about a goal for a U.S. population of no more than 200 million by 2100? With such goals, we can better reckon what we need to do to gain them.
CALL ON YOUR GOVERNMENT TO SET A CAP ON POPULATION
National commissions should be set up in every country to set what the highest population should be, and Earth lovers need to watchdog them to keep the population cap low. Rosamund McDougall of the Optimum Population Trust writes, “At the end of 2008, Britain became the first country in the EU to set a cap on population growth, with a ministerial pledge not to allow it to grow beyond 70 million.” The United Kingdom now has 61 million inhabitants and is growing by 400,000 a year thanks to immigration and a too-high birth rate. McDougall warns that the pro-growth policies of British governments “look like a catastrophic environmental error. It is hard to see how the country will be able to sustain 70 million people in 2050.” The Optimum Population Trust is calling for “numerically balanced immigration” and “stopping at two children.” They believe such a path could cut population to 55 million by 2050. The United States and other countries need to follow the lead of the Trust.
CALL FOR LONG-TERM LOWERING OF WORLD POPULATION TO NO MORE THAN TWO BILLION
Outrageous and outlandish though it will seem to many, some of us need to begin calling for lowering Man’s population and gathering the facts behind such a need.
And when we get right down to it, freezing world and U.S. population is not nearly enough. Stout-hearted, free-thinking J. Kenneth Smail, an anthropology professor at Kenyon College in Ohio, has shown that there is truly no choice but to sharply lower the population of Man over the next one or two hundred years.
Dave Foreman is the founder of The Rewilding Institute, co-founder of The Wildlands Project and Earth First!, and author of several acclaimed books on wildlands conservation. Books: Rewilding North America | Man Swarm: How Overpopulation Is Killing The WIld World | Take Back Conservation …among several other Rewilding books you can find here. [Photo: Dave Foreman in the barren grounds of Nunavit, Canada © Nancy Morton]