Saturday, 19 November 2016

Overpopulation: Why It Matters

I am extremely surprised that many people still believe that overpopulation is a myth. I wonder if it has something to do with Hans Rosling's talks, who uses very unconvincing (and unscientific) argumentation to 'prove' that overpopulation is a myth, while he is conveniently overlooking the interdependence between humans and other species and completely ignores our unsustainable ways and what it would take to change this. Let me address those points now to help make clear why overpopulation is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.

1. Carbon negative living is now the only way to stop climate change
Did you know that to make life on earth sustainable (and survive as a species) we all need to start living a carbon negative lifestyle right now? The main reason is that even if we would all stop emitting carbon from now on, and if we all went vegan overnight, still more carbon would be added to the atmosphere than can be absorbed. Part of the reason for this is the carbon that is released from the permafrost, which is melting due to already increased temperatures.
So this means we need to be focusing on rehabilitating nature and on making completely self-sustainable communities ASAP: no more mass-production of food (because that requires transport), no more mass production of unnecessary products (which may include more than you think) and no more jobs that do not contribute to the well-being of the planet (or worse: which cause destruction). If we just continue "doing our jobs", there won't be any human life left in a few decades.

2. Humans require space and natural surroundings to remain in touch with nature
Do you think the human population of the entire earth can live in harmony with nature (i.e. living a carbon negative lifestyle)? If you think so, have you ever been to the Netherlands, India, China and other densely populated places? If you live in those places, you hardly have any contact with other species. It might seem that humans are the only species there, or at least the most important ones, which is of course very misleading. Where are all those people going to live, if not in high-rise apartment buildings?
Have you ever watched the world population clock? Have you tried growing all of your own food year-round in areas like Canada, Norway and other places with long winters? Have you ever tried growing all the food you eat anywhere in the world, or living merely on foraged foods? Do you know how much land is required to do this sustainably? And do you know how much land is required for us to repopulate creatures that are on the brink of extinction and to restore forest areas enough to reverse our collective footprint into the carbon-negative?

3. Carbon negative living requires us to live in a temperate climate
Weather conditions are often not taken into account when overpopulation is discussed, yet it is a very important factor, especially with regards to carbon negative living. Have you tried compensating for the carbon you emit by planting trees, living a fully self-sustainable lifestyle with a carbon negative footprint? I would say try it. You would at least need to be growing all of your own food, give up any fossil-based transport/consumption and live without heating or air-conditioning. Give it a go and see how difficult it is; especially in colder climates. And then put human overpopulation into that new perspective.

4. We are part of the ecosystem
Perhaps the most important point is that humans depend on many other species for their survival. When overpopulation is discussed, strangely enough other species are often entirely overlooked. We are not the only species that matters. In fact, there are species that matter much more, and that do far more for nature and their relative ecosystems than humans (also because we have lost touch and most of us don't even know the role of humans in nature anymore).

Yes I agree that 'overpopulation' would just be a matter of lifestyles and distribution of resources IF humans were the only species that mattered AND if we were not part of an ecosystem, but that is a rather simplistic view. Some resources are not meant to be distributed. Resources are in a certain area for a reason. It makes the earth habitable for humans in that area. Distributing resources pollutes the earth AND disconnects us from those resources and therefore prevents us from being able to manage them properly.

At this point even moneyless living is not enough to save life on the planet. We need to be out there tearing down factories, planting trees and cleaning our rivers and lakes. Are we willing to do what it takes to save ourselves?

(This blog post is adapted from a Facebook update I posted on 8 October 2016)