As soon as the reader digs into Frosty Wooldridge’s “America’s Overpopulation Predicament: Blindsiding Future Generations,” s/he is hit with a staggering amount of stats on issues that, unless one lives in media isolation, should be somewhat familiar – peak oil, species/biodiversity extinction, consumption, pollution and the underpinning escalating all these crises, too many people. In the U.S. – the focus of Wooldridge’s important contribution to today’s pressing issues – overpopulation is driven by the mass importation of people from throughout the world.
The alarm has been sounded for decades, and the data on the damage we humans are doing to ourselves and all life on the planet is widely available and highly amplified, but how we react is the key, Wooldridge argues. So “America’s Overpopulation Predicament” is not just a litany of the world’s ills, but includes actions the author hopes to help implement, offers policy suggestions and is a call for every reader – for every American – to choose to get involved.
To bolster his arguments, longtime “populationist” Wooldridge brings together the thinking of many – scientists, scholars, writers and researchers – on this issue to advocate for more awareness of human overpopulation and activism to move towards a sustainable population. Among many others, he quotes oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910 – 1997): “Overconsumption and overpopulation underlies every environmental problem we face today.” Referencing the work of Jack Alpert of the Stanford Knowledge Integration Lab, a sustainable U.S. population, writes Wooldridge, may be under 100 million people. Yet the population in America – already overpopulated at 300 million in 2006 – is rocketing towards 439 million by 2050.
The excesses in other countries spill over to the U.S., as we too often serve as their pressure release valve. Wooldridge states that “those burgeoning populations flood into first world countries with no end to the line.” The author takes the reader through the mega-populations of Africa, India and China, countries home to 1.3 billion people, 1.3 billion and 1.4 billion, respectively – with Africa expected to reach 4 billion by the end of the century. He outlines the numerous negative impacts of too much population growth, including devastation to biodiversity, particularly in Africa:
“It means that every living creature featuring feathers, hooves, claws, fins or fur that lives in Africa will become food for the human mob. It means relentless extinction of rhinos, lions, gazelles, wildebeest, giraffes and elephants – just about any creature that breathes.”
Wooldridge lays out the facts and stats to support the argument that we need to stabilize and lower our human numbers. But his passion for bringing more people to this issue and his advocacy for a sustainable planet is borne from personal experience. The author is a traveler, having explored six continents via bicycle seeing overpopulation first-hand at 12 mph. Having logged 100,000 miles, he observed poverty and disease, witnessed illiteracy, traveled through filth and squalor and navigated the polluted and toxic Ganges River in India and the Yangtze River in China which, he writes, “resembled an open sewer.”
“No one will escape the ramifications of the next added 3 billion people to the globe,” writes Wooldridge. Tremendous action is required. The author encourages readers to ask the tough questions on population and growth driven by mass migration, including the wisdom of Western countries accepting millions of immigrants whose home countries refuse to address their overpopulation. “What kind of a civilization do you expect to bequeath your children?” Wooldridge asks. “If Western countries continue on the same path, every nation will become overpopulated where everyone suffers,” no one has “quality of life,” and the environment continues degrading.