Another Year Ends with Scant Media Reporting on Overpopulation

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

December 20, 2017
cartoon on opverpopulation
Journalists consider writing about
overpopulation too risky.

As 2017 draws to a close, another year will pass with the establishment media rarely connecting immigration to overpopulation. For decades, advocates for less immigration have wondered when journalists would link unsustainable population growth to unchecked migration.

For population growth with its detrimental consequences on the environment and the quality of life, to take center stage the media needs to bring it to readers’ attention. Absent media focus on overpopulation, the issue and its importance goes under-reported, and the nation remains mostly in the dark.

David Roberts, a self-described environmental journalist explained why he never writes about population, and never intends to.

From Roberts’ story: “When political movements or leaders adopt population control [including assumedly reducing immigration] as a central concern ... let’s just say it never goes well. In practice, where you find concern over ‘population,’ you very often find racism, xenophobia, or eugenics lurking in the wings. It’s almost always, ahem, particular populations that need reducing.” 

Roberts partially redeemed himself when he added that its “possible to be concerned about the environmental stresses population brings without any racism or xenophobia…” But Roberts cautioned that reporters or advocacy groups who lead with population concerns “starts out behind the eight ball.”

Toward the end of his column, Roberts again pointed out what he views as the negatives in writing about population: “It is high risk — very, very easy to step on moral landmines in that territory — with little reward.” Roberts concluded that he doesn’t want “the blowback.”

Nevertheless, the status quo on immigration and population growth will continue until the media raises awareness. The media’s power to influence opinions and policy can’t be underestimated.

Take, as an example, bullying. Little discussed for years, but now written about with regularity because of its dangers, bullying is now identified by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine as a serious public health issue that effects one-third of American children. First Lady Melania Trump addressed a United Nations luncheon about cyberbullying’s hazards.

Overpopulation carries public health risks too, and journalists should be write about it with the same commitment it does other social perils.
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