n Brooke Morales on Earth Overshoot: “Earth is being seen as a means to an end rather than a home.”
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By Brooke Morales

Today’s date, July 28th 2022, signifies a need for a wake-up call. It signifies Earth Overshoot Day, the day humanity has prematurely used a year’s worth of Earth’s resources. Newsweek released an op-ed in response to this date, authored by Carl Safina and Carter Dillard, titled “It’s Earth Overshoot Day, and Future Generations Are Calling.” In it, they outline the major contributor to this problem: Population growth, which they opine has been purposefully encouraged to create the illusion of wealth that ends up concentrated in a few benefactors while failing to account for future entrants. They liken this phenomenon to a pyramid scheme and offer solutions to irradicate it: Family planning initiatives and redistribution of wealth to create equitable conditions for future children. 

As a member of the up and coming Generation Z, this is a growing concern that many others alongside me are experiencing and, as the title states, we are calling. The future is increasingly uncertain as steps have not been taken to ensure the availability of resources moving forward, especially for any future children. To put illusionary wealth before this basic need is an injustice in and of itself, and it threatens the potential continuation of every family. I’d like to add onto Safina and Dillard’s brilliant discussion and opine this central point: the Earth and all of its inhabitants, human and non-human, should have been respected, rather than exploited, from the start. Now, multiple parties are paying the price of greed and irresponsibility.

Hands united

An issue that I deem important to highlight in addition to those discussed by Dillard and Safina is population growth’s impact on meat consumption. Meat consumption is increased by population growth and thus fuels concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that cause suffering to animals living in life-long confinement. Countless investigations and documentaries such as “Earthlings” have exposed insurmountable abuse and neglect in these facilities. Living conditions are created with the intent of maximizing production and keeping up with our growing population, not ensuring quality of life for animals. Animals are thus paying the price.

Dillard and Safina’s ideas of wealth redistribution shed light on a pressing issue of inequality. Initiatives intended to create more births do not account for the conditions children will be born into, nor do they take steps to ensure equal opportunity, thus continuing the cycle of inherited inequality. A mindset of self-determination is used to blame the individual for being in poverty, rather than acknowledging factors out of their control. People are thus paying the price. 

On top of that, from a philosophical perspective, Earth is being seen as a means to an end rather than a home. It’s the foundation on which years of development have become possible. After all, the Earth supports all life. It should therefore be treated with its longevity in mind. Let’s no longer allow Earth, people, and animals to pay the price of the growth mindset. Dillard and Safina offer solutions that should not be ignored.

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