April 3, 2020
Dave Gardner of World Population Balance asks: Are there too many people on planet Earth?
(Stream / download audio at bottom of page)
The very subject of human population is so controversial and even taboo that it is almost impossible to discuss in any meaningful or objective manner. Those who favour population reduction are often cast as Malthusian misanthropists by their opponents, while those who believe that the Earth can easily support current and future population growth are dismissed as naïve, irresponsible, and even ecocidal.
Whatever the case, we are facing a maelstrom of serious environmental crises, including climate disruption, species extinction, deforestation, fresh water shortages, and fertile soil depletion. The sheer size of the human enterprise is a major root cause of all these. Have we simply outgrown the planet? Smarter, more sustainable practices are a necessary part of the solution, but we may never solve these crises over the long term without also scaling back the size of our population. But questions remain: Can this be done without coercive or draconian measures? What impact would a smaller population have on the economy and standards of living? Can we learn anything from countries whose populations are already in decline? And, in our consumerist culture of ever greater growth and yet more things and stuff, are we really ready for a new way of being?
Previous interview with Dave Gardner: Growthbusters – Hooked on Growth
Bumper music: Cliff Martinez ‘Traffic OST’