A program of the Center for Inquiry
For Immediate Release: May 11, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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A planet overwhelmed and overcrowded with human beings is the focus of a special issue of Free Inquiry, the journal of secular humanism. With over 200,000 people being added to the numbers of humans alive on the planet every day, Earth may be tasked with supplying a home and resources to as many as 17 billion people by the end of the century. Forget terrorism or nuclear conflict, the swelling of the world’s population is perhaps the greatest threat to the sustainability of life on Earth. In this issue, experts from across the disciplines take a hard look at the damage we’re doing and what can do about it before it’s too late.
A key theme shared in the essays on the population crisis is how little public discussion and debate has been had on the subject. Robert J. Walker of the Population Institute posits that scientists are wary of “intruding” on women’s childbearing decisions but points out that by more seriously supporting reproductive rights around the world, much good will be done for leveling out the human population as a result. Likewise, Joe Bish, director of Issue Advocacy for the Population Media Center, sees an opportunity to stabilize the world population by the year 2049 by elevating the status of women around the world and providing family planning services and education.
Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute critically examines the balance between physical realities (such as, Earth cannot sustain much more) and political realities (such as, leaders fear change) and sees no contest. “It is political reality that must yield,” he declares, warning, “Delusional expectations are about to crash upon the shoals of hard truth.” One such collision between the political and the physical occurs in the area of immigration to the United States. Geologist Walter Youngquist warns, “With its diminishing vital base of fertile soil and fresh water supplies, the U.S. is now in an unsustainable ecological situation about which everyone should be concerned.” David Simcox and Tracy Canada of Negative Population Growth argue that immigration rates must drop to at most one-fifth of their current level if the ecological damage done is to be mitigated.
Also in this issue: Reflections on the life and legacy of humanist writer Avijit Roy, the Bangladeshi-American freethinker who was murdered, allegedly by Al Qaeda. Roy’s friend and website cofounder Jahed Ahmed takes hope in the fact that Roy’s death has only increased antipathy for radical Islamism. Roy’s wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, who fortunately survived the attack alongside her husband, calls for justice and declares that she will not be silenced.