Move Upstream

Environmental organizations around the world are often stuck treating symptoms, rather than addressing the root causes of environmental problems. Author and naturalist Karen Shragg joins Phil Cafaro for a new episode of The Population Factor to discuss how “moving upstream” could reinvigorate a tired environmental movement.

by The Overpopulation Project

As representatives from the nations of the world gather virtually and in Glasgow to discuss the biodiversity and climate crises, the focus is on painless technofixes and clever managerial solutions to allow continued demographic and economic growth. Do most participants believe that such “downstream” efforts actually will solve the problems they are discussing? We doubt it. Still, they console themselves with the thought that their efforts are better than nothing.

But are they? Perhaps these efforts are worse than nothing, and not just because of the carbon emissions of more than 25,000 participants flying into Glasgow. These conferences and the news reports coming out of them lock in the idea that only solutions that accommodate continued growth are acceptable, or even thinkable. Arguably this obscures the real solutions to these problems threatening humanity’s future.

The alternative, according to Karen Shragg, is to “move upstream” and address the root causes of our environmental problems: excessive human numbers and human economies premised on endless growth.

In the latest episode of The Population Factor, Karen and Phil discuss the difference between upstream and downstream solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. They consider how a personal connection to nature motivates activism and rejuvenates activists. And they debate the effectiveness of Karen’s slogan: “One child families can save the world!”

You can watch this and other episodes of The Population Factor on Earthx TV, streaming for free on your television or here on your computer. And learn more about Karen Shragg’s work and publications here.

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3 thoughts on “Move Upstream

  1. I know Karen and her courageous work. In my free e-book, “Stress R Us”, available at and elsewhere on the net, I elaborate my theory of “population density stress” as real-life day in and day out personal evidence of the health consequences of living in our massively overpopulated world. When’s the last time you had to see a doctor or other healthcare provider? We are sick and getting sicker by the day to the downstream consequences of population density stress. Want to see the evidence? Read “Stress R Us”, after you read Karen’s wonderful “Move Upstream”.

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