News Release

Is the 7 Billion or the 1% Causing Environmental Crises?


According to the United Nations, world population will reach the 7 billion mark on Monday.

IAN ANGUS, ecosocialism at
Angus is the co-author of the recent book Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis. He has just published the piece “Is the Environmental Crisis Caused by the 7 Billion or the 1%?” which states: “[M]ost of the 7 billion are not endangering the earth. The majority of the world’s people don’t destroy forests, don’t wipe out endangered species, don’t pollute rivers and oceans, and emit essentially no greenhouse gases … [W]hile populationist groups focus attention on the 7 billion, protestors in the worldwide Occupy movement have identified the real source of environmental destruction: not the 7 billion, but the 1%, the handful of millionaires and billionaires who own more, consume more, control more, and destroy more than all the rest of us put together.”

CHRIS WILLIAMS, chriswilliams66 at
Williams is author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis and a professor of physics and chemistry at Pace University. He said: “It isn’t population growth that is causing food scarcity or is primarily responsible for the many accelerating global environmental crises. Even if population growth were to end today, worsening rates of starvation, the growth of slums, and ecosystem collapse would continue more or less unabated. Food production continues to outstrip population growth and therefore cannot be considered the cause of hunger. Clearly, there are very serious planetary problems of soil erosion, overfishing, deforestation and waste disposal, to name only a few, which are putting pressure on the sustainability of food production over the long haul. However, these are all inextricably bound to questions of power and a system run in the interest of a small minority — the 1% — where profit continually outweighs issues of hunger, waste, energy use, or environmental destruction. Concentrating on population confuses symptoms with causes.”