PMC Digital advocacy manager talks 8 billion in santa fe new mexican
Originally Published in The Santa Fe New Mexican on Nov 12, 2022
On Tuesday, the world population will hit 8 billion people. Some people will tell you this exponential growth is undoubtedly good, mostly for economic reasons, based on capitalistic principles that we constantly need more people because we need more consumers.
While 8 billion people undoubtedly present 8 billion opportunities, the opportunities aren’t rooted in their ability to buy things or consume at an increasing rate. Eight billion opportunities exist because of the ability to change course for our planet. The opportunity is rooted in 8 billion people shifting the focus to equity, human rights and caring for the Earth we all call home and share as a home with flora and fauna across diverse ecosystems. And as we move toward a vision of an equitable and flourishing future, we will also have to react to ever-growing threats of climate change, mass extinction, flooding, water scarcity, overconsumption, pollution and myriad other issues.
Across the world, the effects of overpopulation are being felt by people in every single community on this Earth. Across the world, the effects of overpopulation are being felt by the majestic wild animals who roam the diverse landscapes of this planet. Across the world, the effects of overpopulation are being felt by forests, trees, plants and bodies of water that are so critical to this Earth. Gray wolves in the New Mexican desert. The conifers, spruce and pine trees that call the boreal forests home. The Sandias. The Jemez. The people across the United States who wonder when water will stop trickling out of their kitchen faucet. The child in Albuquerque with asthma.
In New Mexico, although our state isn’t all that populated, our people still feel the effects of an overcrowding world, and the world can’t handle these effects much longer. Wildfires burn our homes, our communities, our forests. Las Vegas, N.M., is literally running out of water. We face judicial trials in which our very right to access public water sources is currently being litigated in a case brought to the Supreme Court by the state of Texas. Gray wolves are on the brink of extinction, and they have been for a while. Women may legally have some bodily autonomy here, but it would be naïve to assume that means they are treated equally or have all the rights they deserve.
So what do we do? Well, we change our behavior. We change the way we treat women and girls. We give children across New Mexico, across the country, across the world, access to high-quality, affordable education. We give women, everywhere, every time they need it, access to basic health services, including reproductive-related health care. We stop forcing young girls to be brides. We stop allowing women to be mutilated and physically harmed at young ages, as adolescents and as adults. We give people autonomy over their own bodies, autonomy over their own minds and actions, and we stop controlling people.
Let’s stand together — change behavior and change the world. We have 8 billion opportunities in front of us; let’s not take a chance following overconsumption, the invisible hand of the free market, patriarchy, authoritative public policies and existing norms while hoping they will save us. They won’t.
Cody Peluso is a resident of Albuquerque and digital advocacy and mobilization manager for the Population Media Center.