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. The negative impacts of social media on mood are well understood, so why feel compelled to reduce people to statistics/things/objects with this statement, as if each person carries an equal portion of blame for global emissions? To me, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the cause, effects, scale and solutions required to combat the problem.
Media hysteria and radiophobia clearly skew public perception to make us more afraid of nuclear energy than climate change, feeding a science-averse mentality. We can be optimistic without endorsing greed, but this ‘too many people’ theme is simplistic 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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