As the ecological crisis deepens, and global warming accelerates, many on the left, to their credit, are increasingly addressing the environmental issues. The idea of ecosocialism, which sees socialism without ecology as inadequate for the transition to a sustainable alternative to capitalism, is being increasingly adopted-although there is a long way to go.
An ecosocialist conference took place in New York recently that attracted socialists from across North America. It brought together organisations sympathetic to the FI, along with the ISO, the Green Party and a large number of individual activists. The FI declared itself ecosocialist at its last World Congress and its sections are increasingly taking the ecological struggle up.
There is, however, one important aspect of the environmental crisis that the bulk of the left remains remarkably reluctant to confront. This is the issue of the human population of the planet-which is rising at an unsustainable rate.
Yet the issue of population is increasingly reflected in the media. In Britain the issue has been taken up in TV debates recently and Al Gore takes it up in his new book The Future-though not from an anti-capitalist standpoint of course.
As far as the urgency of the issue is concerned the figures are clear enough. The global population has almost tripled in the last 60 years-from 2.5bn in 1950 to over 7bn today! This is an increase of between 70 and 80 million people every year-or like adding the population of the USA to the planet every four years! And it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact the rate of increase has been remarkably stable for the past 50 years.
According to UN estimates the global population will reach somewhere between 8 and 11 billion by mid-century. Meanwhile nearly half of the current global population is under 25. This is the biggest new generation ever, and a huge potential for further growth. At the same time the per capita consumption of food, water, and manufactured goods is increasing even faster than the population itself.
Yet the left has little to say about all this! There has been a consensus since the 1970s to oppose population control and coercive methods to reduce the birth rate, which has been correct. But opposition to coercive measures is not enough. It does not address the issue of rising population itself, or develop a progressive response to it-it is just against coercion.
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Current World Population
Net Growth During Your Visit