Life on the Brink
Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation

Edited by Philip Cafaro and Eileen Crist

A reassessment of a crucial and controversial environmental issue

Reviews

“The desire for families is built into our genes; and since people have a right to reproduce, more people living a more abundant life is a perennial hope. But seven billion and escalating to ten or twelve? Too many people is arguably the most serious problem on the world agenda—for the adverse effects on human flourishing, on land health, and on biodiversity. . . . Cafaro and Crist have gathered much of the best recent work analyzing these daunting issues. In the new millennium no one can claim to be well educated, or moral, without facing ‘life on the brink.’”
—Holmes Rolston III, Colorado State University

“For decades, overpopulation deniers have claimed that those who advocate population stabilization or reduction do so to retain privileges; are motivated by racist, sexist, or colonialist views; or do not understand economics. Life on the Brink courageously argues that intelligent and compassionate action in our world demands that we reduce our numbers as quickly and humanely as possible. Its urgent message should be widely read and acted upon.”
—Bron Taylor, author of Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future


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Description

Life on the Brink aspires to reignite a robust discussion of population issues among environmentalists, environmental studies scholars, policymakers, and the general public. Some of the leading voices in the American environmental movement restate the case that population growth is a major force behind many of our most serious ecological problems, including global climate change, habitat loss and species extinctions, air and water pollution, and food and water scarcity. As we surpass seven billion world inhabitants, contributors argue that ending population growth worldwide and in the United States is a moral imperative that deserves renewed commitment.

Hailing from a range of disciplines and offering varied perspectives, these essays hold in common a commitment to sharing resources with other species and a willingness to consider what will be necessary to do so. In defense of nature and of a vibrant human future, contributors confront hard issues regarding contraception, abortion, immigration, and limits to growth that many environmentalists have become too timid or politically correct to address in recent years.

Ending population growth will not happen easily. Creating genuinely sustainable societies requires major change to economic systems and ethical values coupled with clear thinking and hard work. Life on the Brink is an invitation to join the discussion about the great work of building a better future.

Contributors: Albert Bartlett, Joseph Bish, Lester Brown, Tom Butler, Philip Cafaro, Martha Campbell, William R. Catton Jr., Eileen Crist, Anne Ehrlich, Paul Ehrlich, Robert Engelman, Dave Foreman, Amy Gulick, Ronnie Hawkins, Leon Kolankiewicz, Richard Lamm, Jeffrey McKee, Stephanie Mills, Roderick Nash, Tim Palmer, Charmayne Palomba, William Ryerson, Winthrop Staples III, Captain Paul Watson, Don Weeden, George Wuerthner.

Page count: 352 pp.
7 tables, 4 figures
Trim size: 6 x 9

 

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Hardcover
List price: $69.95
978-0-8203-4048-7
12/1/2012
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Paper
List price: $24.95
978-0-8203-4385-3
12/1/2012
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Philip Cafaro is a professor of philosophy at Colorado State University. His books include Virtue Ethics and the Environment and Thoreau’s Living Ethics: Walden and the Pursuit of Virtue (Georgia). Eileen Crist is an associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society at Virginia Tech. Her books include Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis.