Ignoring the ‘elephant in the room’ Environmentalists eschew population impacts

Published on October 7th, 2013

Overpopulation is the proverbial elephant in the room that climate activists and big environmental groups have managed to dodge for decades.

For years, politically correct climate activists have assiduously avoided making the connection between overpopulation and anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change.

Similarly, the big, well-heeled national and global environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace have bent over backyards to avoid admitting – let alone addressing – the link between overpopulation and ever-greater pressure on environmental resources.

Globetrotting environmentalist movers and shakers rake in enormous contributions from well-meaning donors and foundations. Ostensibly, in their telling, destructive practices and trends like overfishing; disappearing coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands; widespread air and water pollution; and poaching of threatened species all have little or nothing to do with the sheer number of people consuming natural resources or needing jobs supplying those resources.

It’s as if each of these 7.2 billion people – or the least wealthy 99% – were able to survive on nothing more substantial than sunlight and air, and perhaps a little water, like a lovely orchid – their ecological footprint as light as a feather’s.

Of course, this is an utterly absurd and dishonest fantasy. Yet recent decades have shown that ignoring overpopulation can be profitable, while speaking openly and honestly about it can be perilous to an organization’s reputation and finances.

Bill McKibbenFamous climate campaigners like Bill McKibben in America and George Monbiot in Great Britain each argue that population has little or no bearing on greenhouse gas emissions. In their view, any attempt to link population to climate is at best misguided and at worst racist.

Earlier this year, McKibben went as far as endorsing immigration “reform” that would not only grant amnesty to many millions of illegal aliens but effectively double legal immigration rates, rapidly boosting American population growth for the rest of the century and beyond. Apparently he is so fed up with America’s unwillingness to confront climate change and curtail carbon emissions that he has deluded himself that Latino immigrants in particular – and the supposedly green-minded Latino politicians who would represent them – are climate saviors whose commitment to Earth outweighs the effect of their added numbers. They come to America less to pursue prosperity and increased consumption than to embrace a carbon tax and minimize their carbon footprint by taking buses, riding bicycles and installing solar panels.

This is delusional – and an insult to the intelligence and moxie of immigrants.

What will it take to persuade environmental groups to publicly acknowledge, as they once did unabashedly, that more people equal more impacts?

A modest proposal is to refuse to support these negligent groups. Across the decades as a committed environmentalist, I actively supported with dollars and/or time the following big national environmental groups:

  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Sierra Club
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Greenpeace
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Oceana
  • Ocean Conservancy
  • World Wildlife Fund (Worldwide Fund for Nature)
  • National Audubon Society
  • Wilderness Society

None of these groups now actively and unapologetically targets overpopulation. All ignore the issue, deny it, downplay it or even attack those who do advocate serious measures to stabilize national and global populations ASAP. They don’t deserve our support at all; they deserve our opprobrium.

Within my modest means, I continue to support environmental groups with targeted agendas, such as the Save-the-Redwoods League or the Yosemite Fund. I also support the Center for Biological Diversity, because at least it educates about overpopulation even if it is silent on immigration reduction. And I support the Rewilding Institute and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, because founders Dave Foreman and Paul Watson are outspoken allies on overpopulation.

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