John Muir, the great conservationist and early national park advocate, believed that humans were part of the great tapestry of life, not its rulers. He once wrote, “I have precious little sympathy for the selfish propriety of civilized man, and if a war of races should occur between the wild beasts and Lord Man I would be tempted to sympathize with the bears.”
I side with the bears, too, but of course to say so doesn’t mean that human well-being is unimportant. Worrying about the fate of humanity was the whole reason our foundation published the book Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot as centerpiece of the Population Speakout campaign (populationspeakout.org), in collaboration with the fantastic folks at Population Media Center. We recently got word that the book is an Outstanding Book of the Year medalist (in the “Most Likely to Save the Planet” category) from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
Since our team started work on that project, we’ve called the book “OVER” for short, because it sometimes seems the choices humanity is making are going to shorten our time on Earth as well as consign so many other creatures to extinction. OVER opens with a parable, “Lord Man,” inspired by Muir’s quote. You can see a video version of it here and view the whole book online here.
While the opening parable starkly describes the choices before us, a closing parable, and also the book’s Afterword offer a hopeful, positive vision for humans and the rest of life flourishing together. Population Media Center and many other NGOS working to promote gender equity, educate girls (especially in the developing world), and make family planning services universally available are doing crucial work—for people and bears.