Environmental Movement, Racism, and Population Control


One of my best friends, Luke, is an Environmental Science major and so I had to share "The Color of Choice: White Supremacy and Reproductive Justice" with him. On page 6 Ross writes briefly about widely accepted set of racist myths that environmentalists believe.

I have heard a lot from the environmental movement about urban sprawl but nothing about blaming poor populations for environmental degradation.

I asked Luke what he thought about population control and he seemed very certain that overpopulation was one of the biggest issues of today and that if people had less children that slowly all of the worlds problems would go away. He talked about how he supports population control because of all of the environmental issues that could be slowly solved if the rate of population decreased. The thing is that he couldn't come up with a plan on how to decrease the population. Luke said he would be in support of something that was similar to China. He whole-heartedly supports population control by putting a maximim amount of kids to be born (2 per family). He said he couldn't think of any other way to go about it.

I told him that "what if I wanted a family of 3 kids" and he replied "Nope!" I wonder what would happen if someone accidentally got pregnant with a 3rd? What would happen then..? Probably not anything humane.. forced abortions and sterilizations, perhaps?

My eyes were completely opened. I had no idea my friend felt this way about population control. Some of the quotes in this Ross article were also disturbing.

"the AIDS virus may be Gaia's tailor-made answer to human overpopulation" -Earth First!
"famine should take its natural course to stem overpopulation" -Earth First!

When I shared these with Luke he admitted to sometimes thinking about horrible diseases and plagues and how if those hadn't happend then our population would be so much larger and we would have so many more problems.

It's complicated to think about. From a humanist standpoint, plagues and diseases are terrible for mankind! From a more removed and realistic standpoint, it is logical to think about plagues and famine as courses to be had for the population.

  • Do you think over-consumption is the problem?
  • How can we realistically deal with this problem?
  • Do you think over-population is the problem?
  • How can we realistically deal with this problem?

When I asked Luke specifically about poor populations of color being the cause of environmental degradation he said that it had never crossed his mind.


This slightly reminds me of this surprisingly pro-choice quote I found from George H.W Bush-
"We need to make population and family planning household words. We need to take sensationalism out of this topic so that it can no longer be used by militants who have no real knowledge of the voluntary nature of the program but, rather are using it as a political steppingstone. If family planning is anything, it is a public health matter."
- George H.W. Bush

Although it leaves race out of it completely, it's still the same idea. That family planning could be a tool for population control.

Right! Family planning could be used as a tool for population control but I wonder about the accessibility there is to it and how that would come in to play. And what exactly is "family planning?" Is it synonymous with abortion or is there more to it than that?

Also that quote was very surprising to read! When did he say that?

I thought it was interesting what you said about famine and disease relating to population control. I had never thought of either of those in this way. I have obviously always thought of disease wiping out a population as awful but when taking a step back if there wasn't the spread of disease and famine our population would be even more crowded and out of control. Some of the things your friend said surprised me and at first I was thinking it was ridiculous but they are valid points and I can see both sides in all of them.

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