Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis

Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis

Ian Angus

Language: English

Pages: 280

ISBN: 1608461408

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Too Many People? provides a clear, well-documented, and popularly written refutation of the idea that "overpopulation" is a major cause of environmental destruction, arguing that a focus on human numbers not only misunderstands the causes of the crisis, it dangerously weakens the movement for real solutions.

No other book challenges modern overpopulation theory so clearly and comprehensively, providing invaluable insights for the layperson and environmental scholars alike.

Ian Angus is editor of the ecosocialist journal Climate and Capitalism, and Simon Butler is co-editor of Green Left Weekly.

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energy needs by the equivalent of 2,792 million tons of oil. He arrives at that improbably precise figure by multiplying the difference between the two population projections by per capita energy use.18 • Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, extends that error to the entire economy in his best-selling book Common Wealth: “The total magnitude of economic activity is calculated by multiplying the average income per person by the number of people.”19 • American populationist Edward

is desirable or possible, and presto!—an instant best seller about impending catastrophe. Contrary to what populationists have been predicting for years, the rate of growth is slowing dramatically. And contrary to what the “birth dearth” crowd now claims, the world’s population is still growing, and it isn’t likely to fall even to 1990 levels for a very long time. Projected Population Growth, 2009–2050 Source: United Nations Population Division World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision

concept of consumer sovereignty is a cornerstone of all populationist accounts of the environmental crisis. As consumers, we get what we want through the responsive market. We are destroying the environment because we want too much of the wrong things. If forests are cut down, it’s because consumers want more wood products, or more of the products that will grow where forests used to be. If oil companies destroy ecosystems, it’s because more consumers want more gasoline. That’s why corporations

of environmental movements, social movements, trade unions, farmers, and other aligned parties that can work together in everyday political struggle on the local as well as national and international level.12 In April 2010, some thirty-five thousand activists, many of them indigenous leaders, gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. The “People’s Agreement” they adopted places responsibility for the climate crisis on

important allies as a major part of the problem. The animating spirit of the ecological revolution is human solidarity. Its overriding goal is sustainable human development. It aims, in Vandana Shiva’s words, to “power down energy and resource consumption [and] power up creative, productive human energy and collective democratic energy to make the necessary transition.”13 It recognizes, in the words of the Cochabamba People’s Agreement, that “in order for there to be balance with nature, there

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