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Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Ian Angus , Simon Butler , Betsy Hartmann

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Too Many People? A clear, evocative, and well-documented refutation of the idea that overpopulation is at the root of many environmental problems. Full description

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 2.6 von 5 Sternen  7 Rezensionen
14 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Too many Percyites 28. Januar 2013
Von Ashtar Command - Veröffentlicht auf
"Too Many People?" is a book by Ian Angus and Simon Butler, two eco-socialists from Canada and Australia, respectively. While the book never reveals their exact political identity, they are clearly Marxist in political orientation, and seem to be connected to the Australian group known as the DSP or "Socialist Alliance". A less dogmatic eco-socialist, Joel Kovel, have written one of the forewords. The book comes with positive blurbs from Raj Patel, John Bellamy Foster and others.

Angus and Butler attack what they call "populationism", otherwise better known, rightly or wrongly, as Malthusianism or Neo-Malthusianism. Typical representatives of populationism include Paul Ehrlich, Garret Hardin, David Pimentel, Dave Forman and the so-called Cairo Consensus. The authors acknowledge that populationism is a broad spectrum of opinions, but its lowest common denominator is the idea that overpopulation is one of the main roots of environmental destruction (or *the* main root), and that meaningful action to stop pollution, climate change and other environmental hazards must include population control as a top priority. Populationists may also demand an end to immigration, and often blame voluntary consumer choice for the profligate consumption habits in the rich nations.

In the opinion of Angus and Butler, environmental destruction isn't caused by overpopulation, immigration or voluntary consumer choice. Rather, the culprit is capitalism, a system based on an irrational drive to accumulate super-profits no matter what. As long as capitalism remains firmly in place, a drop in population numbers will not affect the level of environmental destruction. It will remain the same, or might even get worse! The authors call for an "ecological revolution" that will replace capitalism with eco-socialist governments devoted to the interests of the workers and farmers. They mention Cuba and Bolivia as positive examples, while criticizing China and the Soviet Union.

It can hardly be denied that the authors score quite a few points against the populationists. The worst polluters are the developed countries in the "global North", despite their smaller and in some cases contracting populations. By contrast, the global South has an enormous population and demographic momentum, but due to poverty and underdevelopment, its "carbon footprint" cannot match that of North America, Western Europe and Australia. (China might be catching up.) Nor is everyone in the rich nations equal: multi-national corporations both consume and pollute more than ordinary citizens, let alone low-paid or unemployed immigrants. As for voluntary consumer choice, Angus and Butler believe that mass manipulation of consumer demand through advertising, popular culture and "planned obsolescence" makes consumer choices anything but strictly voluntary. Population control programs in India, China and other Third World nations don't seem to have stopped global (or local) environmental destruction.

Despite this, I nevertheless found "Too Many People?" both frustrating, simplistic and dogmatic. That really existing populationism has many things wrong, doesn't mean that population levels are unimportant, or become important only at some ridiculously high level (say 20 billion people). The bottom line of this book is that overpopulation isn't really a problem at all. The world's population will peak at 10 billion in 2050, and then stabilize or even go down. Therefore there is apparently no need to worry. The authors believe that 10 billion people can easily be fed even by organic agriculture! Feeding our present numbers using the food industry we have today, would therefore be even easier. Peak oil, pesticides, destruction of the soil, overfishing and the accumulated effects of climate change are strangely absent from this scenario. Yet, Angus and Butler are aware of these problems (with the possible exception of peak oil) when not discussing population. Their agnostic or negative attitude to population issues comes straight from Marx and Engels, who believed that rapid economic growth and high technology would end scarcity and thereby liberate humanity from class society. Engels acknowledged overpopulation only as an "abstract possibility", and didn't propose any specific measures against it. Please note that a centralized planned economy logically means control over both production and consumption, yet Marxists are strangely myopic when it comes to controlling the number of actual consumers! This is connected to the idea of near-unlimited economic growth and progress, an idea Marxism (ironically) have in common with the cornucopian strand of pro-capitalist ideology. Are we to believe Angus and Butler, there is no such thing as carrying capacity either, not even among insects?!

"Too Many People?" strike me as naïve or simplistic on a number of other points, too. The authors conjure up a picture of a First World working population virtually *forced* into mass consumption and pollution by raw corporate power and manipulative advertising. At one point, they opine that it wasn't the consumers who forced Exxon Mobil to build oil wells and extract oil. What they pretend not to notice is that oil is the ultimate fuel, almost too good *not* be used due to its high amount of energy, the ease with which it's transported, etc. The alternatives proposed by the authors (wind, geothermal, wave and solar power) aren't anywhere near oil and other fossil fuels in efficiency. If given a voluntary choice, consumers in the rich nations are more likely to demand that Exxon Mobil (or a state-run, socialist version of the same company) continue extracting oil, rather than substantially lowering their standard of living. The same is doubly true of low-paid or unemployed immigrants, who moved to the North precisely to get a bigger slice of the global pie. Nor is it likely that Third World nations with vast oil reserves will give them up in favour of "wave power" or organic bean-stalks. (This would include Hugo Chavez' Venezuela, which the Socialist Alliance supports!) Even from a Marxist perspective, the authors' view of the global North is curious. Do they really believe that the system works only because a small clique of billionaires manipulates public opinion? Are there no classes in the global North whose material interests are objectively pro-capitalist? How about the vast middle classes? The labour aristocracy? Kulaks? If the entire system is simply based on clever lies, it should have exploded long ago...

I think a fundamental problem with "Too Many People?" is precisely its attempt to weld together Marxism and environmentalism. (Or perhaps make eco-socialism more dogmatically Marxist?) As already pointed out, Marxism is based on the idea of unending growth and progress, a very fundamental presupposition of modern, industrial civilization. True, Marxism wants planned growth for the benefit of the working people, but the bottom line is still accumulation until a stage of superabundance is reached and communism ushered in. Small wonder Marx and Engels saw capitalism as a progressive and inevitable stage in world history! Socialism isn't the negation of capitalist accumulation, but rather its Hegelian "Aufheben", a very different thing. Thus, a consistent Marxism must criticize capitalism not on the ground that it accumulates, expands and grows, but rather on the ground that it does so in an irrational manner, which in the end might lead to a collapse that ends growth altogether. The "productivist" view of socialism prevalent in the Soviet Union (which Butler and Angus criticize) was in reality a perfectly reasonable exegesis of the Marxist project. By contrast, a consistent environmentalism questions precisely these simplistic ideas of Progress, making the Greening of Marxism a problematic proposition. In effect, many contemporary Marxists want to believe in a transition to renewable energy sources and more energy conservation, which will nevertheless still somehow lead to economic growth enough for 10 billion people (or more?). But this is simply another version of the current, "capitalist" growth paradigm: "sustainable growth"! At least judging by "Too Many People?", Greened Marxism hasn't been able to solve this contradiction between two worldviews that are at bottom very, very different.

Personally, I find the book's seemingly sensible proposals for world-wide eco-socialism to be utopian even at best. At one point, the writers admit that time really is running out (they are dead right, there!), contradicting their indifference towards population issues. But if time is running out, how likely is it that an eco-socialist program can be implemented on a global scale, especially in the global North, where the centres of capitalism are located? Apart from Cuba and Bolivia, Angus and Butler can point to no example of a regime that even resembles eco-socialism (their silence on Venezuela is interesting!). A global collapse is more likely than global eco-socialism, and when that happens, Herr Engels' dictum about overpopulation being "abstract" will no longer apply. Take Cuba. Do the authors really believe that Cuba could have survived on organic agriculture if the island's population had been twice or thrice as large? What will happen to Venezuela when peak oil hits home? Or to Saudi Arabia or Iran, for that matter? (Perhaps a relatively isolated nation like Bolivia can make it?) Of course, a global crisis will also make it impossible to sustain (pun intended) the illusion that a large part of the North's affluent population will somehow benefit from eco-socialist "wave power"...

Ian Angus and Simon Butler might not want to face the twin problems of overpopulation and taken-for-granted overconsumption, but I think these very problems will hit us - and I do mean "us" - hard in the decades to come. It won't be pretty, and it probably won't be very eco-socialist either. While global capitalism would have to go, the remaining societies and communities will probably have to find other survival strategies than a combination of solar power and Marxism...
5 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Only climate change? 10. Februar 2013
Von Wonder Dookie - Veröffentlicht auf
Though I found much of this book compelling, I thought their argument was too simplistic. They rely too heavily on highlighting negative affiliations between populationist groups without directly addressing many of their claims, and didn't get down to much of the actual science of environmental degradation.

For example, the authors focus almost entirely on the issue of global climate change (perhaps because that is currently the big buzz in the media), but overlook the primary cause of species extinctions - habitat loss. While they make a compelling argument for their being a divide between population growth and carbon dioxide emissions, they did not adequately address the connections between population growth and deforestation, habitat degradation, etc. If the authors had more thoroughly addressed other environmental issues than climate change I probably would have given this book a higher rating.
1.0 von 5 Sternen Anyone, who doubts the negative effects of overpopulation on ... 29. August 2014
Von Lisa - Veröffentlicht auf
Anyone, who doubts the negative effects of overpopulation on the environment, should visit southern California. We are continuously losing wilderness and farmland to new cities. Almost all of the wilderness between Santa Barbara and San Diego is gone now (and it was mostly wilderness 25 years ago). By 2050, the area will be a solid mass of concrete and asphalt from the Mexican border to the central coast. And it is all the fault of our politicians and their dual policies of mass immigration an no border enforcement.

We are the canary in the coal mine. If liberal immigration policies are allowed to continue, the land and resources of the border states will be exhausted and our excess population will flow out into the rest of North America. End America's unsustainable immigration policy now or suffer California's fate.
0 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen There's only one answer. Yes. 28. Mai 2014
Von John A. Bailo - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
This book seems like a rushed counter argument to try and bolster some of the Democrat policies of over immigration and carbon taxes. They fail to recognize that a society, having a birth rate of 6 or 8 would soon overwhelm even the most productive and efficient society because there is only one Earth (right now at least...I leave open for the long term the idea of faster than light travel and also, planetary engineering within out solar system.) Imagine a Utopia where each person has a mansion (not a Mc- but a real one). Now what happens when one more person shows up in the total than last year and there's no more room to build. See there's no way around the overpopulation argument.

If you reverse his arguments, however, this becomes pretty much an explanatory handbook for much of the seemingly erratic behavior of the current society -- which at it's core is Marxist, capitalism being a part of the newspeak that allows it to lead and control. The Democrat idea of trying to make "good cities" and somehow ameliorating the pain of overpopulation has only one goal -- increasing their own ability to rule through demographics, hence the need too for stratospherically high rates of immigration.

The effects we've witnessed in the last 40 years, as a result of the warnings of the Club of Rome, must be viewed as a necessity for survival. And we have too types of overpopulation. There are the native populations, which, yes in their present (or former) format were rather energy conservative. But then, each person in those large populations might desire to become a Light in the Tunnel (as the title of another book explains) with a house and appliances, one or more vehicles, schools, vacations.

Again, even if you could do these things in the most "ecologically" beneficial way you still need room -- height, length and width -- for these people to exist in. There is simply no getting around it. And so, China pollutes itself, and drives people into cities. And a 1% class dominates and belittles the rest, depressing their libido. The result has been dramatically declining birth rates wherever it goes.

The question that needs to be asked is...should it now stop. Should we stop permeating our suburbs with carbon monoxide, so their bloodstream does not make them pliant and sleepy and less inclined to breed? Should we let intelligence resume? Or will the man with his new found health and wealth...want to have four children again as he did in the past. It does seem like it's up to exert, as the Bible tells us...dominion over the Earth. Not to let it run wild as both "eco-socialists" and the Church think they should be advising, but for each person to develop a level of control (and dare I say logic) that has not been seen before in human history.
0 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Growth marketing 14. November 2013
Von Nerodog - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Unscientific ideological cherry-picked apology for business as usual and overpopulation by a couple of people without any sense of democracy. There is a lot of money to be made out of population growth so authors who promote it are more likely to be published than authors who analyse it carefully and do not promote it.
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