Where is Overpopulation’s Rosie the Riveter?
Here’s installment #3 in our series of questions unanswered during the GrowthBusters webinar, Solving Overshoot: End Overpopulation or Stop Overconsumption. I’m including responses later provided by our panelists, Paul Ehrlich and Madeleine Somerville. Find more information about the panelists, the first 3 questions and links to all these follow-ups here.
8. Terry Spahr asked (in relation to Paul Ehrlich’s remarks about the U.S. uniting on a single mission for WWII: “That was Pearl Harbor. there is no social impetus to go on a consumer war time footing. how do you galvanize a population to go to a wartime footing on reducing consumption?”
Paul Ehrlich: That’s a question a lot of us have been struggling with for a long time – and obviously haven’t found an answer.
9. James McDermott asked: “Paul, what did the political leaders do in the past to create immediate change? How do we re-create that drive to solve today’s problems?”
Paul Ehrlich: Immediate change very rare, except in Pearl Harbor type situations. Many politicians struggled to end slavery in Britain and U.S. but success took many decades.
10. Karen Shragg asked: “For Paul: Don’t you think if we tell the truth about overpopulation that we could also change policy to tax extra children etc.? How many people in the US have been told by environmental groups that we are overpopulated relative to our resources? How many families who have plenty of access to birth control continue to have unsustainable numbers of kids because they have ONLY heard about eating organic food and riding bicycles? I like to use Sarah Palin as an example of an empowered woman who has 6 kids .. it’s not always about access, the story is just not told frequently enough.”
Paul Ehrlich: This is true – overpopulation is truly the elephant in the room. We keep trying, and failing.
11. Dana Visalli asked: “Don’t we have a genetically mediated biological problem? Most organisms optimize their reproductive potential and horde resources to that end. What leads to the ability to overrule genetic imperatives with ecological insight?”
Paul Ehrlich: Culture – no human society follows the DNA imperative of “maximize your reproduction.”
I’ll post more tomorrow. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. Keep them coming. Here’s the 4th post in this series.
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