Robert Fireovid: I want our population to shrink. I pray for it every day.

This commentary is by Robert Fireovid, a farmer in South Hero and executive director of Better(not bigger)Vermont. Before coming to Vermont, he held managerial positions for General Electric, Black & Decker, and the federal government. 

A recent commentary in VTDigger called for an increase in Vermont’s population and claims that “if we’re not growing, I fear we will be shrinking, and surely none of us wants that.” 

Well, I am proud to say that I do want our population to shrink. In fact, I pray for it every day. 

And there are many people who want the same. In fact, the interest in reducing our human numbers is growing (pun intended). There are now worldwide movements pushing for “de-growth” policies that can intelligently and humanely reduce human populations everywhere. 

I’m not referring to members of the 0.1% who some believe want to own most of the world’s resources, including human and AI-based robots to serve the elites while the rest of humanity rots. 

Rather, there are a lot of people who realize that all of mankind’s major problems — including war, illness and disease, pestilence, malnutrition, vast disparities in wealth and opportunity, resource shortages, environmental degradation, species extinction — would all be easier to overcome if there were fewer people. 

In contrast, higher and more dense populations often lead to increasing crime, poverty, welfare dependence, ill health, depression, alienation and suicide. 

We live on a finite planet with finite resources and finite abilities to absorb humanity’s waste streams without consequence, and to think otherwise is delusional. Scientists tell us that humanity has already overshot the Earth’s carrying capacity and that we risk a traumatic crash. 

Many of the posted responses to a recent Paul Krugman column in The New York Times, criticizing China’s population decrease, expressed disagreement with Mr. Krugman’s position. (The column is behind a paywall.) 

Vermont is one of the few places left in the U.S. and worldwide where humans still have a good chance of being able to live healthy and happy lives in ecologically sustainable communities. And that’s because many of our communities still enjoy relatively low population densities. 

Many nonnative Vermonters, including myself, came to Vermont because it’s one of the few remaining places where we can benefit from lots of nature right outside our homes. We are here to take a last stand for sanity. Are we bad because we want to preserve a healthy Vermont for future generations?

My passion for reducing humanity’s bootprint in Vermont and everywhere on Earth springs from my unbounded love for all life. To me, every animal and every plant is my relative. We all share the same cellular and biochemical building blocks. We all have a very rich history of co-evolution together. They (or we) are all incredibly beautiful miracles, and we all deserve a chance to live as much of a dignified life as possible. 

This epistemological viewpoint is not unlike that held by many Indigenous cultures throughout the world — Native Americans, Bon-Buddhists in Tibet, Australian Aboriginals, etc. — wherein the real interconnectedness of all life and all creation is acknowledged, respected and honored. In short, Indigenous people live in balance with their non-human relatives. They understand that the more people there are in an area, the less space and fewer resources are available to our non-human relatives. 

I believe that mankind has taken the command to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” to a horrific extreme. I can understand if one considers my viewpoint to be “religious” too, but the atheistic anthropocentric pro-growth view that mankind is vastly superior to (and can be disconnected from) the rest of nature is just as much of a religion, and one that I submit is much further from reality. This speciesism is as bad as any racism and I feel sorry for the anthropocentric worshipers, as they are missing out on so much connection, life and joy. 

My daily pray is that a critical mass of humanity rejects anthropocentrism and chooses instead to allow all the co-inhabitants on spaceship Earth the opportunity to live with the dignity of which they are capable. De-growth can be a truly satisfying and rewarding future for everyone and everything in Vermont and around our planet. Let’s shrink into abundance for all.


Recent Stories

Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Robert Fireovid: I want our population to shrink. I pray for it every..."
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.