Sprawling Mexico City rolls across the landscape, displacing every scrap of natural habitat

Sprawling Mexico City rolls across the landscape, displacing every scrap of natural habitat . Photograph: Pablo Lopez Luz

Some might argue that 7 billion people, while a lot in itself, isn’t necessarily a cause of concern, not even when this is expected to sour to 10 billion by 2100. After all, 7 billion people can be squeezed in an area the size of Texas, but I think that’s besides the point. Yes, the world can make room for a couple billion more and by the time this happens less poverty is to be expected too, as developing countries raise their standard of living. Supporting a population of this size is one thing, but doing it in a sustainable way is another though. Given our limited inheritance of soil, water, and arable land, this should be not even remotely possible. Consider that today we’re using 1.5 Earths – that is we’re depleting resources at a rate far greater than the Earth has time to regenerate.

This simply means that our quest for greater and greater material prosperity is now impoverishing future generations. Clearly, waste needs to stop, fossil fuels replaced with renewables and education tuned to raise awareness on the perils of overpopulation. Indeed, while there are some who recognize that we’re currently living unsustainably, there are yet many who cling to the anachronistic notion that there’s infinite treasures to be reaped from the earth. In this respect, Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) – a photo book – captures the essence of the ecological and social tragedies of humanity’s ballooning numbers and consumption. It’s part of the 2015 Global Population Speak Out campaign, which offers people and organizations worldwide the opportunity to influence the future of life on this planet by giving voice to their aspirations for a more sustainable future.  Some of the photos below have been featured in the book, which you can request for free here as long as you promise to distribute it.  Read it online here.

Industrial livestock production in Brazil. Photograph: Peter Beltra

Industrial livestock production in Brazil. Photograph: Peter Beltra

South City Mall in Kolkata, India. Photograph: Brett Cole

South City Mall in Kolkata, India. Photograph: Brett Cole

As far as the eye can see, greenhouses cover the landscape in Almeria, Spain. Photograph: Yann Arthus Bertrand

As far as the eye can see, greenhouses cover the landscape in Almeria, Spain. Photograph: Yann Arthus Bertrand

Indonesian surfer Dede Surinaya catches a wave in a remote but garbage-covered bay on Java, Indonesia, the world’s most populated island. Photograph: Zak Noyle

Indonesian surfer Dede Surinaya catches a wave in a remote but garbage-covered bay on Java, Indonesia, the world’s most populated island. Photograph: Zak Noyle

No room for nature, the entire landscape is devoted to crop production in China. Photograph: Google Earth/2014 Digital Globe

No room for nature, the entire landscape is devoted to crop production in China. Photograph: Google Earth/2014 Digital Globe

Depleting oil fields are yet another symptom of ecological overshoot as seen at the Kern River Oil Field in California. Photograph: Mark Gamba/Corbis

Depleting oil fields are yet another symptom of ecological overshoot as seen at the Kern River Oil Field in California. Photograph: Mark Gamba/Corbis

Slum-dwelling residents of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, face bleak living conditions in the western hemisphere’s poorest country. Photograph: Google Earth/2014 Digital Globe

Slum-dwelling residents of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, face bleak living conditions in the western hemisphere’s poorest country. Photograph: Google Earth/2014 Digital Globe

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