APPLY THE BRAKES

Help Us Stop Unsustainable U.S. Population Growth

THE LEADERS

John Davis
Conservation Director of a Wilderness advocacy group.
"Please adopt incentives for smaller families to help solve global warming and the host of other population and consumption driven issues."

 

 

Sire of All Crises

Virtually every major problem in the world today is caused or exacerbated by human overpopulation. From famine and disease to war and extinction (the overarching crisis of our time), the main driving force is the exploding human population. Planet Earth is being wrecked by too many people consuming too much of the natural world through technologies too harmful.

The litany of overpopulation’s problems is the list of the world's travails and torments: habitat fragmentation and destruction, species extirpation and extinction; air, land, and water pollution; global climate chaos, extreme storm damage, killing droughts; unemployment, declines in social services, poverty, starvation, disease, epidemic; degradation of natural and cultural amenities, such as trails, parks, and gardens; loss of individual meaning, influence, and opportunity; ennui, angst, and mental disorders; congestion, noise, traffic, road rage, crime; exploitation, imperialism, war... If our civilization is to have a prayer of persistence, we must face the huge challenge of humanely, peacefully reducing our numbers – probably several orders of magnitude, over many decades – to within biological carrying capacity, to a level compatible with the long-term well-being of all our fellow denizens on this sensitive planet.

With good reason, the hot topic of the day is just that – global overheating. Obviously, the problem is not just that we drive gas guzzlers, overheat our poorly insulated houses, and waste too much paper. The problem is also that too many people are driving; too many people are heating their homes with fossil fuels; and too many people are consuming natural resources and supplanting natural, carbon-storing habitats with crops, cows, lawns, and houses.

In the United States at least, demographic and economic trends of recent years strongly, if surprisingly, suggest that fertility is more amenable to reconsideration than is consumption: People will apparently more easily accept a smaller family than they will a smaller energy budget. People would rather have fewer children than stop driving their cars and running their air conditioners. So, while we must also confront the problems of excessive consumption and harmful technologies, we will likely make the greatest strides toward saving the world from disaster by instituting financial and cultural incentives for lower birth rates.

The Inconvenient Truth of human-caused planetary overheating may best be met with the more convenient truth that by peacefully and voluntarily reducing our numbers, we not only help stabilize the climate and abate the extinction crisis, we also treat virtually every ecological, social, and cultural ill in the world today. Then, rather than our many descendants cursing us for condemning them to a world of poverty, pestilence, and war, our small number of offspring would thank us for recognizing just in time the moral imperative of ending humanity’s march against the natural world.

– John Davis, past Wild Earth editor and co-founder of the Wildlands Project; Rewilding Institute fellow

 Join John and help us apply the brakes to unsustainable U.S. population growth.
BIOGRAPHY

Former editor of Wild Earth magazine and Biodiversity Program officer of the Foundation for Deep Ecology.


John Davis is Conservation Director of a regional Wilderness advocacy group in the East, and a volunteer land steward for a valley-to-mountains wildlife corridor.  He serves on the boards of directors of the Wildlands Project, RESTORE: The North Woods, Eddy Foundation, and Wild Farm Alliance, and is a fellow of The Rewilding Institute. He also serves as volunteer land steward for the Eddy Foundation in Split Rock Wildway, a wildlife corridor linking Lake Champlain with the Adirondack mountains to the west. John has also been an editor of many conservation publications. We was editor of Wild Earth magazine during the early 1990s, and then served as Biodiversity & Wilderness program officer at the Foundation for Deep Ecology in the late 1990s. John lives with his wife and step-son and three indoor cats in the Champlain Valley of the eastern Adirondack Park. He explores wild places every chance he gets, and believes the long-term well-being of these wild places will depend largely on humanity's willingness to curtail our population growth.

(Organizational affiliations listed for purposes of identification only.)

Contact John Davis

john.davis@applythebrakes.org