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Just how much is too much?

by The Concordian January 31, 2012
In the cozy, dimly-lit setting of the Hall building’s 12th floor Greenhouse, two people serenaded a small audience on their guitars. About two dozen people were gathered to discuss whether the biggest threat to our environment today is in fact that we are just “too many people.”
Last Thursday, Concordia hosted the book launch of authors Ian Angus and Simon Butler’s Too many people? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis. As Butler couldn’t make the trip from Australia, Angus held a public discussion on their behalf.
In their book, the self-proclaimed eco-socialist authors argue that blaming today’s problems purely on growing populations is overly simple, and ignores the importance of the way wealth is distributed throughout the world.
“Corporations and armies aren’t polluting the world and destroying ecosystems because there are too many people, but because it’s profitable to do so,” explained Angus.
Angus continued that the “too many people” theory ignores the role of an economic social system in which short-term corporate profits always trump environmental sustainability. Angus argues that today’s economy has growth, waste, and devastation built into into it.
Fundamentally, the argument of overpopulation causing endless problems in the world hinges on a misuse of statistics and is a dangerous belief as it may lead to racism and anti-immigration reforms, according to Angus.
“If we misdiagnose the illness, then we will waste precious time on ineffective cures at best; at worst, we will make the crisis more intense,” he said. “As eco-socialists, we believe very clearly that we will not turn back the tide so long as capitalism remains the dominant economical system in the world.”
However, not everyone in the audience was convinced.
“I feel that he was saying population and individual consumption are not major problems and we don’t need to address them,” said Kristy Franks, a prospective student and citizen activist. “The way I see it, we need to focus on all of these areas, as they are all intertwined.”
Despite this, Angus still has reason to hope. “Today, millions of people know that another world is possible,” he said. “They know that this system may seem eternal, but it isn’t, and they are actively fighting for change.”

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