Ensnared In Our Own Designs: Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

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Kern River Oil Field in California, another symptom of ecological overshoot, © Mark Gamba/Corbis.
“I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something created by nature we call it progress.” —Ed Begley, Jr.

In this season of renewal, some experts have turned to the key issue of how much of our only planet - victim of so much daily plunder and excess  - can in fact be renewed. Their answer: Not enough. As part of the 2015 Global Population Speak Out campaign, three concerned non-profit organizations - Population Institute, Population Media Center, and Foundation for Deep Ecology - have created a stunning book of photos, essays, research and quotes indicting the ecological and social crises we have created, and seeking ways to a more sustainable future. Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) focuses on our global, multi-layered,  self-destructive intemperance, from vast landscapes glutted with oil wells to squatters living in "swamps, floodplains, volcano slopes, unstable hillsides, rubbish mountains, chemical dumps and railroad sidings." Arguing that, "Human domination over nature is quite simply an illusion, a passing dream by a naive species," it also addresses social injustices that must be dealt with to make the planet inhabitable for all. The book retails for $50, but its creators are also giving it away to organizations working to raise consciousness about those issues. It can also be viewed online: See, its powerful images plead, what we are doing.

"We are slaves in the sense that we depend for our daily survival upon an expand-or-expire agro-industrial empire – a crackpot machine – that the specialists cannot comprehend and the managers cannot manage." - Edward Abbey

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Sprawling Mexico City, population 20 million, density 24,600/mile, © Pablo Lopez Luz.

“If our species had started with just two people at the time of the earliest agricultural practices some 10,000 years ago, and increased by 1 percent per year, today humanity would be a solid ball of flesh many thousand light years in diameter, and expanding with a radial velocity that, neglecting relativity, would be many times faster than the speed of light.” —Gabor Zovanyi

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On Midway Island, far from world commerce, an albatross dead from ingesting too much plastic, © Chris Jordan.

“Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: as one dies, so dies the other. all have the same breath . . .” —Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:19

Photo on front: Indonesian surfer Dede Surinaya catching a wave in a remote but garbage-covered bay on Java, © Zak Noyle.

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.” —Jacques-Yves Cousteau

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