Don’t be fooled by the unfounded, Malthusian belief that overpopulation is the roots of all evils when it comes to sustainability. Population growth is just one of many issues that we should keep an eye on – for sure – but it would be an unforgivable mistake – and a racist one – to give it our undivided attention.
Overconsumption, social and economic inequality, indefinite economic growth. These are the issues we need to be focusing on and pressuring our governments about. The issue lays with the system, not the people – especially not the poorest ones.
In a recent twitter thread1, citing multiple reliable sources, British environmental and political writer/activist George Monbiot neatly illustrates how “population growth is overwhelmingly concentrated among the world’s poorest, whose lack of purchasing power ensures they each tread much more lightly on the Earth than the rich”2.
In fact, “even several billion additional people in low-income countries … would leave global emissions almost unchanged. 3 or 4 billion low income individuals would only account for a few percent of global CO2”3.
Furthermore, the population growth rate peaked in the 1960s and is now falling rapidly4.
The elephant in the room is the capitalist economy focused myopically on maximising economic growth indefinitely and exploiting natural resources way beyond their limits for the shameful profit of the few, which will cost the many their livelihoods, wellbeing, and – often – their life.
More equitable, just and sustainable economic systems, such as degrowth, exist. It’s time to look at that elephant in the eyes and get it out of the room, once for all.
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Cover image from the web