Too many people?

The comment “There are just too many people” (and variations on it) pops up a lot in eco discussions online. It’s usually well-off people leading a typical upper-middle-class American lifestyle who are saying this.

A couple of my recent responses to “too many people” comments:

• Actually it’s not that we have too many people; it’s just that we have too many cars for the number of people.

• Fortunately it’s not that there are too many people (that would be tricky because are some of us willing to step up & volunteer to be killed?); it’s that the people in the rich consumerist industrialized countries (mainly USA) have a huuuuuuge footprint. People in most of the world have a tiny fraction of the typical USA resident’s footprint, consume far fewer resources per capita.

I say fortunately because we in the USA are only a tiny share of the world population, so if we get our act together and make thrift the cool thing instead of consumerism & excess being the cool thing, it’ll go a long way. The daily habits of mainstream USA put huge pressure on people & ecosystems worldwide, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

One encouraging trend is the “rewilding” movement, also known as Homegrown National Park. Many people are now rewilding their suburban and urban yards, and the effect is huge.

Another movement that’s gaining traction is Strong Towns, which is about reintroducing sustainable design into our towns & cities, so the landscape no longer needs to be dominated by cars and roads.

Also: The permaculture design movement is longstanding, and growing.

Yet another positive movement, though it has not yet caught on to a widespread degree, is the Degrowth movement. Check out the Facebook group Degrowth – join the revolution.