Life on the Brink

Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation.  Philip Cafaro and Eileen Crist, editors.  University of Georgia Press, 2012.

This anthology’s authors include some I’ve known about for years–Paul Ehrlich, Dave Foreman, George Wuerthner, Stephanie Mills, Paul Watson, Richard Lamm–and others I was reading for the first time. Overpopulation, as a critical factor leading us down the road to planetary catastrophe, is so little talked about that one can easily think one’s own concern about it is exaggerated. Thus I felt supported to read that leading activists agree: it is essential that overpopulation be racheted up substantially in public discourse. From these essays, I learned six reasons why it is not more talked about, what the role of immigration in U.S. population has been, more about the terrible impacts on wildlife, and what are the most effective techniques in getting people to reduce family size (contraceptive availability alone won’t do it; however, surprising results have been achieved by incorporating in popular television shows characters who convey approval for having fewer children). A variety of ideas for greater awareness are put forward, e.g. Stephanie Mills’ comment: “It would be marvelous if eco-centric men would organize ‘snip-ins’–mass vasectomy festivals. . .”
With so many stellar contributors, this anthology is a feast of inspiration and information to ponder. We can all be grateful for the many people who are choosing not to reproduce; as Dave Foreman phrases it, “Have you thanked a non-breeder today?”

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