So here’s a scary thought: I agree with the Discovery Channel hostage taker.
I agree with him that overpopulation is the top environmental issue we face today. And I was also brought to this conclusion by the film An Inconvenient Truth, several years ago.
The good news is that apparently I’m not quite so fervent in my beliefs on this point – I’m not planning on strapping any explosives to my body any time soon, or taking any hostages to make my opinion heard.
My solution to the fact that I think shows on TLC and other channels that glorify people who have litters, instead of families, is that I don’t watch them. I have never watched Kate and her brood, or any other show about people with ridiculous numbers of children, and I think it’s disgusting that people prostitute themselves and their kids out for cash and more than fifteen minutes of undeserved fame.
I worked on a campaign in Santa Barbara many years ago, and I stayed at the home of a woman who was a local activist in the choice movement. She was probably in her 70’s, and she had recently lost her husband after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. We had long conversations, and one time the conversation turned to why she and her late husband had never had children. She explained to me that their philosophy was that one should only replace oneself here – in other words, a couple shouldn’t have more than two children – and that so many people had gone above and beyond in that regard that they thought their best contribution to society would be to not have children. I have to say, I could not argue with the logic here.
So when I saw An Inconvenient Truth in 2005, it wasn’t the images of environmental damage that jarred me – the glaciers melting, the weather patterns – it was when Al Gore illustrated the huge population spike just in his lifetime – from 2 billion to almost 7 billion people on earth today. [I actually watched most of the movie again this morning, just to check my info, and he brings this to light at 1 hour, 1 minute into the 90-minute movie.] World population is projected to grow to nearly 9 billion over the next forty years. If you believe that humans have caused the growth in carbon emissions, and that this growth has led to what the rest of the world calls climate change (and what we call global warming), then you should recognize that putting more people onto the same amount of space, competing for the same resources, is going to be a problem.
In fact, I’m reading a book right now called In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan (the guy who wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma). Pollan argues that industrial food producers have attempted to fix the global food shortage by creating food (even fruits and vegetables) which is more durable and better able to be shipped longer distances. The problem is that the quality has been sacrificed. So now we are eating food with less nutrients, so we are less healthy and less able to ward off the diseases like heart disease, diabetes and many of the cancers that are more prevalent in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. And ironically, we are eating more food, more less-good-for-us food, which has created a situation which would seem to be mutually exclusive: we are fatter and yet less well-nourished.
Anyway, I’ve digressed from my original point. Both on the macro level and the micro level, overpopulation is the crux of many, if not most of the problems we have today. On the micro level, if you live in a city – it doesn’t have to be a city as crowded as LA – overpopulation is evident. Traffic. Overdevelopment. You feel the effects of there being too many people every day. On the macro level, overpopulation is putting stress on our resources, and we are depleting them faster than we can replace them.
Overpopulation is worth your consideration. Think of it this way – all of those environmental issues we talk about – cleaning up our air, cleaning up our water, cleaning up the beaches, reducing carbon emissions – people have created all of these issues.
And thus, back to where I started. Some TLC and Discovery programs do glorify extraordinarily large families. But how horribly frightening for the 1,900 people who work in the Discovery building to have a nutball, someone who was “on their radar” and a regular protester there, to force the evacuation of their workplace and hold some of their colleagues hostage. How horrible that this man chose to use violence to make his point. And how sad that the point may get lost as we talk about the crazy hostage-taker.
If you are interested in seeing An Inconvenient Truth again, you can see it with interesting subtitles here.