Overpopulation? Think Lifestyle, not Family Size

Blog post by Gustavo Grad

over population

(Kheel Center,Cornell University, Flickr)

This year we welcomed Danica May Camacho of the Philippines, the 7 billionth person to our planet. Over the last 50 years, we have doubled our global population and are projected to grow to 9 billion by 2050. Are we ready to sustainably support the new generation?

Overpopulation comes up perennially as an environmental concern. Some environmentalists argue that we need to control our population in order to protect the environment.

The issue is clearly lifestyle, however, not family size. Two American children will leave a carbon footprint equivalent to 337 Bangladeshi children. To sustain ourselves and the planet, we need to completely change the way we live here in the rich countries. What if, instead of asking if there are too many people, we start looking for ways that all people can meet their needs and still protect the earth?

Not long ago, I heard author and architect William McDonough talk about a new model that shifts the focus of green design from managing the impact of a destructive system to creating buildings and materials that generate wholly positive effects, for people and for nature. He describes this model in depth in Cradle to Cradle, the book he co-wrote with Michael Braungart.

This milestone 7 billionth person is a call to action. Let’s get ready to welcome the 9 billionth baby to a healthy, sustainable world when she or he arrives sometime around 2050.

© 2011 SCGH, LLC.

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