There are not “Too Many People on the Planet”

It is reported that young people in the UK are most concerned with near-term societal challenges, in particular, the climate emergency, cost-of-living crisis and wellbeing.

So when family or friends postulate that the reason for our climate problem is that ‘there are too many people on the planet‘, I wonder at the origin of their thoughts which demonstrate a lack of understanding of the cause and effects of the problem, also the solutions required to combat it.

Some points to consider are that 1) biodiversity loss can be due in equal part to two separate issues: habitat loss and climate change, but people erroneously conflate them 2) not every person carries an equal portion of blame for global emissions (eg North Americans emit most carbon dioxide per capita); and 3) the global birth rate is already very low at less than 2.4 people.

Radiophobia has been erroneously presented as a bigger issue than climate change, leading to confusion and obfuscation, when all we really need to do is to replace fossil fuels with nuclear fuels. We can be optimistic without endorsing greed, and change our behaviour, for example dis-incentivising air travel.

So you see, the ‘too many people’ attitude is wrong, let alone nihilistic.1

To propagate the thought that world climate problems result from the number of people, strips a person’s life of colour and meaning and evokes a personal sense of insignificance, shame and hopelessness. On a personal level, who wants to hear of mums, dads, students or otherwise taking their own lives? Kind, caring people who we need to help because all lives have meaning and purpose. ‘Too many people’ disconnects us from one another, separates us from nature, and above all does nothing, pragmatically, to address the rising emissions issue.

1: Nihilism is a philosophy that rejects generally accepted or fundamental aspects of human existence, such as objective truth, knowledge, morality, values, or meaning. 


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