Overdeveloped, Overpopulated, Overshot

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By Leon Kolankiewicz

Leon is an Advisory Board Member and Senior Writing Fellow with CAPS. A wildlife biologist, and environmental scientist and planner, Leon is the author of Where Salmon Come to Die: An Autumn on Alaska's Raincoast, the essay “Overpopulation versus Biodiversity” in Environment and Society: A Reader and was a contributing writer to Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation.

In a career that spans three decades, three countries and more than 30 states, Leon has managed environmental impact statements for many federal agencies on projects ranging from dams and reservoirs to coal-fired power plants, power lines, flood control projects, road expansions, management of Civil War battlefields, NASA's Kennedy Space Center operations and a proposed uranium mine on a national forest. He also has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop comprehensive conservation plans at more than 40 national wildlife refuges from the Caribbean to Alaska.

The writer's views are his own.

June 1, 2015

A visually stunning new coffee table picture book has been published in conjunction with 2015’s Global Population Speak Out (GPSO), a campaign orchestrated and underwritten by the Population Media Center, the Population Institute and the Foundation for Deep Ecology.

Cattle, fire and smoke invade the Amazon Rainforest, lungs of the world.
Cattle, fire and smoke invade the Amazon Rainforest, lungs of the world.
Hillside scalped by logging clear-cut on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Hillside scalped by logging clear-cut on Vancouver Island,
British Columbia, Canada.

The book is entitled Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot. It will blow your mind, touch your heart and sadden your soul. If it doesn’t, there’s no hope for you, your heart, your soul or the planet.

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot is packed with powerful, breathtaking and haunting images that depict in dramatic detail the ecological and social tragedies of humanity’s skyrocketing population, consumption and waste. While the book retails for $50, if you participate in Speak Out you can request free books to use in raising awareness about the urgent issues the book addresses.

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot is dedicated to the late William R. Catton, Jr., to whom I paid tribute in the CAPS blog on March 5, 2015. On the back cover is the famous “population challenge” of the late Professor Albert Bartlett:

Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?

While Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot is first and foremost a collection of spectacular and provocative images, it contains choice words as well. The Foreword is written by Musimbi Kanyoro, a native Kenyan and the president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women. Kanyoro writes:

Deepwater Horizon Oil Platform Burning
Flames and smoke engulf the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in April 2010, as an oil slick spreads into the Gulf of Mexico – the worst oil spill by far in U.S. history.

We know that rapid population growth exacerbates social, economic, and ecological problems – whether in rich or poor countries, north or south.

Tom Butler, of the Foundation for Deep Ecology, edits the entire volume and contributes a “parable” on humanity’s hubris called “Lord Man.” An excerpt:

Feigning himself Lord Man, he grew ever-more clever. He learned to gather and burn fossil fuels made by ancient geological forces. Praise was sung incessantly to the new god: Growth. His numbers became multitudes. As the multitudes spread across the face of the Earth, the songs of the other creatures grew fewer and fewer.

William Ryerson writes the Introduction. Ryerson is founder and president of the Vermont-based Population Media Center (PMC) as well as CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Population Institute. He spends most of his time traveling to far-flung corners of the world helping support and expand PMC’s operations in dozens of countries.

Kern River oil field in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Ryerson writes:

If you care about people, you must care about what we are doing to the planet. If you care about what we are doing to the planet, you must also care about human numbers. Given a planet with infinite space and resources, population growth could, arguably, be a blessing. We do not live on such a planet.

Virginia Tech professor Eileen Crist closes out the book with a moving Afterward called “Choosing a Planet of Life.” She writes:

Bringing our global population down to, say, 2 billion will not be the magic bullet that solves every ecological and social problem. But we can rest assured that it will be a magic bullet for doing so. Significantly lowering our numbers facilitates a more harmonious way of life on Earth…

Contact GPSO today to see the book online, order a copy or get involved!

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