7 Responses

  1. paul May 2, 2011 at 1:13 pm |

    As a UK resident I am fully aware of how large populations of Homo sapiens can dramatically degrade ecosystems. 99% of what was once an island of forest here, has been cleared for food production and the constant efforts to produce more and more food from a limited landmass have excluded more and more species of plant and animal from our countryside. My point here is that in my ‘developed’ country our population is big enough that every unit of land mass must be turned over to intensive agriculture in order to sustain us!
    I think us British (Attenborough, Lovelock) have a particular relationship with the idea of population because of the latter points and I think it is true that there is a kind of ‘taboo’ regarding population in that it is not discussed in a way that is even close to policy, this, I believe, is because capitalism is dependant on population growth, so here in the UK the ‘red herring’ thing does not apply, although I agree that if we were here discussing how to solve the problems for real we would not start with population, we would start by re-designing how we operate economically I guess and I’m assuming thats why you guys here at C&C spend so much time slating the idea of overpopulation, because you see it as a ‘red herring’ which is used by ‘capitalist’ supporters to distract from the real problem or serves as a focus which can provide avoidance of the real solution?
    One last thing – I read this site regularly and am still yet to hear much about the redesign, I have learned little about the ecosocialist society which I could fight for? Can you point me in the right direction for this info.

  2. Jeff White May 1, 2011 at 2:23 am |

    I won’t be participating in that EIN discussion. It was started by someone who decided to post a negative rant against an as-yet-unpublished book he had not read, and demanded a preview of the arguments appearing in it – arguments he could easily have discovered simply by clicking on the link Ian provided above that points to past articles on populationism in Climate and Capitalism.

    I prefer to wait until the book is published and discuss it with people who have actually read it.

    I have actually had the privilege of seeing the manuscript of Too Many People, and I highly recommend it to all readers of this e-zine.

  3. Corey Little April 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm |

    For those interested, here is the capitalist reactionary Andy Revkin talking about the population non-issue:


    I am hopeful the new Ian Angus, Simon Butler book will show how misguided and uninformed he is.

  4. Martin O'Beirne April 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm |

    Look forward to reading this book. A difficult topic (the most difficult). Have had many an altercation with fellow travelers that I would otherwise regard as entirely rational on the issue. I acknowledge my arguments have become almost standard, borrowed in fact and weighted more toward morality with little accompanying science. In this regard I am looking forward to reading a whole text on the subject ‘adding some meat to the bones’ as it were as opposed the less satisfying option of reading a section or perhaps just a mention as provided by other ‘ecosocialist’ books.

  5. Piyush April 28, 2011 at 9:29 am |

    “Of course that’s nonsense. No explanation of the environmental crisis gets more exposure than the claim that it is all caused by overpopulation” – where is this coming from? Is there any evidence? It is very rare to see any articles on environmental issues or reputed environmental organizations that actually talk about overpopulation and even in general populace, it is hardly discussed.

    “The view that really doesn’t get such coverage is the anti-capitalist alternative, the argument that the crisis is caused by a social and economic system that has waste and destruction built into its DNA” – there have been non-capitalist socieites that have had overpopulation that has caused widespread suffering and misery due to overuse of natural resources on which the wellbeing of the population depends.

    “The noted US ecologist Barry Commoner once said that populationist solutions to environmental destruction are equivalent to attempting to save a leaking ship forcing passengers overboard. He said that instead we should ask if there isn’t something radically wrong with the ship”. — This is a false analogy and a false incrimination. The right analogy is “attempting to save a leaking ship by trying to stop the leak to save the existing passengers while also educating passengers from producing more passengers that will sink the ship. The ship (in the form of the planet) cannot always be “fixed” or made bigger, the passengers have to learn to live happily within the limits of the ship”.

    Those who do not understand that both consumption and population are problems and both need to be stopped (stopping one does not guarantee stopping another) and only are on one side try to unproductively attack the other side and diminish the possibility of reaching their common goals of true sustainability.

  6. Nicholas Roberts April 28, 2011 at 1:04 am |

    I remember reading a Monbiot piece (I quit the climate commissar) where he talks about how great but flawed the Attenborough nature docos are. They almost never have people, and always make nature look pure. No signs of environmental degradation. Creates the myth of a pure nature.

    Now, I see, it might have been more intentional. Like Lovelock, David wants cities, farms and wildlands without people.

    Books like 1491 and Conservation Refugees – where indigenous peoples are keystone species – dont figure in this eco imperialism.

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