The fear of ‘overpopulation’ and its impacts on our environment is widespread. A large issue with buying into this theory is believing resources are equally spread, when it is, in fact, the opposite. The threat to humanity is not population growth, but over-exploitation of resources by a privileged few, and how the system is set up. We must hold the major emitters accountable.
According to Vox, ‘population growth is the least influential part of the climate change calculation.’ Worldwide, human population growth is, in fact, slowing, and expected to stabilise at approx 11 billion by 2100. Heather Alberro (Associate Lecturer/PhD Candidate in Political Ecology, Nottingham Trent University) states, ‘focusing on human numbers obscures the true driver of many of our ecological woes’, which is actually the ‘waste and inequality generated by modern capitalism and its focus on endless growth and profit accumulation.’ Richer countries, like the UK and US, have a greater responsibility for historical emissions.
The consumption of the world’s richest 10% contributes up to 1/2 of global consumption-based CO2 emissions, while the world’s poorest 50% only produces 1/10. Social justice and ecological issues are not mutually exclusive. By blaming climate issues on population growth, especially in developing regions, you are projecting classist and often racist beliefs and distracting from the issue at hand.
Many people, including some rich, usually white and western environmentalists fuel the idea that the poor fast-growing countries are to blame for climate change, even though they often face the brunt of climate disasters, despite having contributed to them the least. Extreme inequality in a system that prioritises profits over people means the world’s richest over-consume, while the world’s poorest (often in Africa, Asia and Latin America) suffer disproportionately from ecological disasters.
We cannot let the overpopulation myth distract us. We must focus on equity and justice. We owe it to future generations to make a change.
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Originally published at https://intersectnews.wixsite.com on July 26, 2020.