by Karen Shragg
Almost all groups, except privileged rich white males, are disenfranchised to some degree. The labels of those who are thrown under the bus of hatred seem to grow each day. Classism, fascism, antisemitism, and misogyny are all despicable realities that have a greater grip on us now that Potus #45 is in power. Ironically, many who profess to being Christian can also be found supporting hatred at every opportunity.
I am also an overpopulation activist. I hate the culturally invisible grip it has on our society and our world. I know that the earth has limits and that we have been exceeding those limits for over a century. As a naturalist I have learned that all organisms must live within the limits of their environment and that we are not exceptional even if we have pushed those limits with technology. Overpopulation is rarely blamed but it is the reason we are witnessing the loss of forests, clean air, clean water and other vital natural resources.
We gave up discussing overpopulation with any real integrity several billion people ago because it was deemed politically incorrect if not dangerous to approach. We directed the national and even international conversation toward the more acceptable areas of so-called green actions and renewable technologies. Organized religion played a heavy handed role in that but so did the NGOs who cheered them on with their silence. It is nearly impossible to find the basic numbers of our overpopulation problem on any website professing to be about helping the environment. We should all know that the planet is 5.5+ billion people over a sustainable number (at a European lifestyle) and that we are growing by an unsustainable 83 million net gain each year. The US is 150 million over its sustainable number. That is all verifiable and should be the first thing we teach when it comes to true sustainability.
Some of my fellow overpopulation activists have called for me to harp on the idea that mass immigration must end based on our ecological inability to support more people. I know these activists are caring people. I know they are deeply concerned about running out of resources. I know that they are technically correct. But I also seriously believe that if we start with an anti-mass immigration message before people understand the basics of overpopulation, we will fail twice. We will fail in getting people to hear our heartfelt concern because they will hear a message laced with xenophobia. We will also fuel the fire of those racists who would like nothing better than to have another reason to shoot people who look like immigrants. I don’t want their blood on my hands. I do not dispute the role mass immigration plays in overpopulation here and abroad - that is clear. But to focus on that as a solution before we deeply and collectively understand the overpopulation problem is a lot like having a doctor prescribe surgery to a patient who has not yet been told they have a disease.
I hope others will join me in calling for a dialogue about how we can come together to address the evils of both racism and overpopulation. We need to understand how they both negatively impact our world, particularly the poorest and most disenfranchised among us. We do not have to live in the polarity of either loving people or working on overpopulation. Our world demands that we do both. The present and future generations need us to be kinder as we address overpopulation with the hearts of activists who never want to be affiliated with those who hate others just for being different.
Karen I. Shragg. Shragg is a naturalist, writer and overpopulation activist. Her books include, Move Upsteam: A Call to Solve Overpopulation, Grieving Outside the Box, and the Nature’s Yucky! children’s series. She lives in Bloomington, Minnesota.