Item Link: Access the Resource
Date of Publication: February 3
Year of Publication: 2022
Publication City: San Juan, PR and Seattle, OR
Author(s): Christopher Ketcham
How we learned not to talk about human numbers
A few years ago I attended a carbon tax panel in Manhattan, the goal of which was to brainstorm ideas for reducing the carbon footprint of Americans. After the event was over, I pressed one of the panelists, Denis Hayes, the coordinator of the first Earth Day in 1970, who had alluded during the discussion to a troubling development in American environmentalism at the turn of the 21st century. On the matter of overpopulation, he said, a green silence prevailed. I asked Hayes whether he thought the United States was overpopulated. His reply was refreshingly honest. An American as a per capita unit should be defined, ecologically and environmentally, he said, as always having a rising footprint – and therefore we should have fewer Americans. “To be American is to be wasteful,” Hayes told me, and it’s “mighty difficult to get Americans to stop being wasteful.”
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