This image is from Climate Action.

You can listen to this episode on here or download it on MediaFire here (57MB).

In this episode we explore the environmental crisis and the way in which the dominant argument is that we don’t have to worry about other issues like consumption and population, all we have to do is use new technologies, energy efficiency and market-based solutions like the carbon tax. To help us discuss this, we are joined by PhD student Caleb Goods, who is doing his thesis on green jobs and has published the article ‘Labour Unions, the Environment and Green Jobs’. We not only challenge dominant solutions to environmental problems but also offer some of our solutions to reducing consumption including buying second-hand, minimalism and more systemic changes, as well as giving some ways to reduce population including choosing not to reproduce and donating to Pop Offsets.** We also discuss stupid climate change denial billboards, Gina Rinehart and climate change denial in Australia, Occupy Wall Street helping out with Hurricane Sandy, animal agriculture being excluded from the carbon tax, Common Ground Festival, Julia Gillard and uranium mining, the great documentary Operation 8: Deep in the Forrest (see the website for more info on this case) and we finish with some positive steps that have already been taken to seriously deal with the environmental crisis.

**Update: We finish episode 44 with a critical examination of some population arguments, with a focus on the intersections between population and gender.

Book Recommendation:

Green Gone Wrong by Heather Rogers


True Blood ‘Season 3, Episode 9’, 1000 Eyes ‘Gaia’, Sherlock ‘Season 1, Episode 3’, CNNNN ‘The Firth Factor’, That Mitchell and Webb Sound ‘Global Warming’, Iron Man 2, Nick Pendergrast’s interview with Caleb Goods – from Perth Indymedia on RTR 92.FM,  Propagandhi ‘Rock for Sustainable Capitalism’, CNNNN, Leftover Crack ‘One Dead Cop’, Voicemail from Jon, That Mitchell and Webb Sound ‘Big Talk 3’, Chumbawamba ‘Buy Nothing Day’, Cobra Skulls ‘Overpopulated’, Peep Show (Series 5, episode 6), Leftover CrackLife is Pain’, Ignite ‘Hands on Stance’.

*The title of this episode was taken from the Propagandhi song with this name, which we play on the episode.

  1. Whilst I agree with a lot of the points raised in this episode, I am uncomfortable with the “over-population” argument. The question of population being the cause of scarcity or environmental degradation is an old one and one quickly latched onto by imperialists and first-world liberals alike. It gives some in the environmental movement a cover to point fingers at the third-world and bring up anti-women “solutions” such as sterilisation etc. What’s more, the maths are completely wrong with the relationship between population growth and emissions growth/environmental degradation. Correlation does not equal causation. You can’t say “global population has grown heaps, so has emissions/environmental destruction, therefore we need less people to have less emissions”, without breaking down the data more and seeing what drives the latter. For instance, some European countries have negative population growth, but their emissions have risen consistently over time. Similarly, some poor countries have had huge expansions in population, yet their emissions have stayed extremely low.

    I could say more, but it’d be easier to point you towards a book titled “Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis”. There’s an excerpt published here ( which I think is a good primer.

  2. Hey Nathan, thanks for the feedback and the link to the book.

    I just read the excerpt and I think that in some ways, it actually reinforces the points we made, rather than dispute them. They quoted the same statistic that we did about the richest 7% consuming 50% of the earth’s resources, and the poorest 50% only consuming 7%. So while perhaps some people use the overpopulation argument ‘to point fingers at the third-world and bring up anti-women “solutions” such as sterilisation etc’, I don’t think that is what we were doing. Rather, we spent most of the time talking about choosing to not reproduce/not to reproduce any more to our listeners (who are from all around the world but a lot are from higher emission countries eg Australian and the U.S.) and very little time talking about donating to family planning in poorer countries through

    Environmental issues aside, isn’t it good if these people are given the choice of wherever to reproduce or not? Of course, as we and the book you linked to mentioned, without pointing the finger at poorer countries as the main problem. Similarly, us challenging the idea of breeding/breeding any more is probably not going to convince those who are really set on doing so to do otherwise, but for those who are not that keen on doing so but might because it is “what people do” – a social norm – it might make them question that and perhaps make a decision they are happier with. And again, isn’t that a good thing, environmental issues aside?

    I think the book was focussed on people who put the environmental crisis simply down to population and while we think this is one factor, we realise there are so many others eg over-consumption, unsustainable transport, the food we eat, political systems like capitalism… So while I think the book made some good points on there not being a direct correlation between rising population and rising environmental impact (and lowering population and less environmental impact), I still think population is important.

    Regarding high emission countries impact growing despite their population not increasing, I think this impact would be even higher if they had even more people – even though, as the book pointed out, it is not as simple as putting a specific figure on that based on a per capita figure. Similarly, with lower emission countries having huge rises in population but not a significant increase in emissions, I believe they would have even less impact if their growth had not been so high. As mentioned before, I agree it is important to avoid arguing that “Third World” population growth is the biggest environmental issue, as you and the book pointed out, but I don’t think we did that on the episode. Also, as pointed out before, I think there are human rights issues why giving people in poorer countries access to family planning is important.

    Thanks again for the link – interesting stuff,

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