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Welcoming Limitations

Welcoming Limitations

Chapter:
(p.185) Eight Welcoming Limitations
Source:
Abundant Earth
Author(s):
Eileen Crist
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226596945.003.0009

“Welcoming Limitations” argues for shifting perspectives on carrying capacity away from the definition of the maximum number of people the planet can support toward an ecological touchstone: the number of people an ecologically sound food system can support. Since the industrial food system is the most destructive, revamping the food system is imperative. This has implications for human population size. In line with Paul Ehrlich and others, the chapter argues that a population of around 2 billion is a defensible goal, enabling the conservation of biodiversity, an interconnected global civilization, and the co-flourishing of humanity and biosphere. This conclusion raises the specter of "the population question," wherein even mention of overpopulation is assailed as politically insensitive. Concerns are allayed by reframing the population question, including: redefining overpopulation as a global issue and not strictly a developing world one; clarifying that population size is a significant driver of excessive consumption, and not a variable independent of overconsumption; and countering the silence surrounding overpopulation, endeavoring to promote broad agreement about the population problem through thinking about it from new angles. Reframing the population question is followed by a discussion of a human-rights framework through which population can be stabilized and slowly reduced.

Keywords:   human population, overpopulation, carrying capacity, human rights, family planning, women's empowerment, sexuality education, scaling down, livestock population

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