Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot, a recently published book, is a jaw-dropping exposé which challenges the very essence of sustainable development.
Mixing quotes from renowned world figures, facts, and photos of Earth’s resources being plundered to quench our thirst for economic growth, this book is yet a sobering reminder that humans can’t handle rapid population growth while seeking unlimited economic growth within our planet’s capacity.
Consider, in 1987, the Earth’s population was at 5 billion. In 1999, it reached 6 billion, and then in 2011, 7 billion. By 2025, the book estimates 8 billion will inhabit this planet, and 9.6 billion by 2050. Humans have exhausted 150% of planet Earth’s renewable capacity yearly, while needing two planets by 2030 to keep up our livelihoods, according to this book.
Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot’s brutal, no holds barred honesty is its biggest asset in grabbing the reader’s attention. It pulls no punches on what needs to happen to avert a disaster suggested by many environmentalists: limiting population growth and consumption, not relying on technological solutions. By planned parenting, contraceptives, and empowering women in developing nations, William Ryerson, founder and president of the Population Media Center, suggests global population can stabilize to 8.3 billion by 2050, and eventually level off to 6.7 billion by 2100 (which is based on low-end UN low-variant demographic predictions).
If the message of limiting population and consumption does not get you, then taking a trip through haunting photos of our footprint on Earth will, with quotes from Robert F. Kennedy, Naomi Klein, and others adding deeper context beyond these photos in the book:
Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot is the An Inconvenient Truth for the deep ecology crowd. It does for deep green photo books what An Inconvenient Truth did with regards to global warming and Our Choice did for the green technology crowd.
While some cleantech advocates and environmental economists disagree (including myself) with some of the ideas here (namely, on handling economic growth), this book does what it does best: it puts a broken mirror in front of all of us, and challenges us to look at the bigger picture on our planet in how we manage our natural resources.