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Shifting the narrative from overpopulation to overconsumption

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Rebuttal by Aalayna R. Green & coauthors

This article appeared in full at Biological Conservation Volume 273, September 2022, 109698

A recent paper by Cafaro et al. (2022) attributes the decline of global biodiversity to overpopulation and encourages conservationists to “advocate for smaller [human] populations, through improved access to modern contraception and explicit promotion of small families”. In so doing, Cafaro et al. maintain a history of population-reduction solutions which encourages eugenics by recommending the erasure, extermination, and extraction of socially marginalized peoples (see Zacharias, 2021). Simultaneously, their assertions perpetuate discriminatory practices toward historically marginalized communities (e.g., Original Nations or Indigenous groups) who live in areas of conservation concern (e.g., Ancestral Territories). We argue that global biodiversity decline is caused by the rise of the overconsumption of natural resources for capitalist monetary gain, particularly attributed to the rich, former colonial powers originating in Western Europe, the United States, and Canada. Shifting the blame from overpopulation to overconsumption more accurately addresses the issue at fault and provides the foundation for a more effective, long-lasting, and ethical biodiversity conservation framework.

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