Long Term Solutions Against Overpopulation and Overconsumption
by Julian on February 22, 2018 - 10:56pm
In his article “Wealth redistribution and population management are the only logical way forward”, William E Rees warns his readers that our techno-industrial society is running on an human ecological footprint that is at least 60% larger than the planet can sustain. While countries are still using renewable resources at a faster rate than they can replenish, the world community still has not agreed on a response to this issue. Rees states that a combination of multiple factors are at the cause of this unsustainable situation such as the increasing population who developed a higher average per capita consumption and the propagation of the myth of economic growth. From his perspective, Rees argues that the only solution to this problem is simply less production and less consumption by fewer people. Clean and green consumption alternatives like wind and photovoltaic electricity won’t cut it since they might not be able to replace fossil fuels for major uses (e.g. transportation, space and water heating) in the long term. Furthermore, Rees insists that the global community should stop supporting the economic growth myth. On a finite planet, it is impossible to alleviate worldwide chronic poverty, balance out out north-south inequities, and increase the wealth of poor nations to match rich nations’ without destroying and exploiting our ecosystems even further. Instead of delusioning itself that everyone can get rich in a a world of limited resources, the global community should prioritize redistribution. Hence, the author presents the following conclusions: If rich nations free up ecological space by consuming less and only when necessary, poor nations would finally be able to increase their consumption. The world should develop a universal plan to reduce population to a level that can be sustainable in the long term. All in all, addressing the issues of overconsumption and overpopulation is vital since for the sake of mankind, maintaining the status quo is not an option anymore.
I agree with the radical solutions presented by William E. Rees. The global community often seems like it is making major environmental breakthroughs when in reality, its methods are not very effective nor sustainable. For instance, we are often quick to promote renewable resources like wind and solar energies as the magic cure that will solve issues like overconsumption and overpopulation. However, Rees goes straight to the root cause and presents the only viable solution: less production, less consumption, less people. Also, Rees ingeniously condemns the international community for operating from a paradigm of economic growth by reminding us that wealth redistribution is the proper response in a world of limited resources. Altogether, the author wipes out all the generally accepted cosmetic quick fixes in order to encourage the international community to adopt viable long term solutions.