ISEES and overpopulation - Comment - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
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    • Stuart Hurlbert
    • 06.10.13 | 23:56 (IDT)

    Kudos to Zafrir Rinat for this wise and balanced article, to the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences (ISEES) for putting population growth on the agenda for its meeting, and to Daniel Orenstein for having the courage to, possibly, walk into a lion’s den. It would be reasonable to expect that an organization like ISEES might play a leadership role in not only sponsoring further open and candid discussion of Israel’s overpopulation but also advocating more rational population and immigration policies for Israel. This group of scientists, more than any other segment of Israeli society, is knowledgeable about, inter alia, the destruction of wildlands and wildlife that took place centuries ago, the further damage done by a 10-fold increase in population since the founding of Israel, and the negative environmental, social and economic effects of further population growth. The U.S. has long been dealing with similar issues, though with fewer complexities created by religion, given that church-state separation is official policy here. Though US scientists have long been outspoken about overpopulation, most have preferred to avoid talking about it at a national level. That would require addressing immigration issues, and any person or organization advocating lower immigration rates is quickly smeared as “racist” by hard left organizations in the US, including some US congressmen. This is one reason why major US scientific societies, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Ecological Society of America (ESA), have long suppressed discussion of US population policies in their publications and meetings. At least in the case of the ESA, the suppression has also been justified by the argument that raising the topic of US overpopulation would jeopardize funding for ecological research. Such censorship has now been documented in extenso. Given that ISEES might confront similar pressures were it to get into policy advocacy and function as more than just a bunch of grant-needing technocrats, the initial successes of a new US NGO run by scientists may be of interest. This is Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization, The main m.o. of SEPS is to set up an exhibitor booth on population (focused primarily but not exclusively on US issues) at the annual meetings of various environmental science societies. Our booth features large charts, display of two dozen books on population, immigration and ecological economics (all given away at end of meeting), and free copies of about four dozen articles, op eds, charts and so on. At most US universities, the professoriate does a poor job of educating on the most basic demographic information and issues, partly out of ignorance but also in many cases out a desire to keep the students uninformed about policy options. Though AAAS refused to allow a population booth at their 2012 meeting in Vancouver, Canada (as recounted in an article by David Schindler et al.), we’ve had successful booths at seven meetings of other societies since then. Our main objective is to get more professors and more science students better informed and more courageous on these issues, and hope that at some point the “system” will get into a positive feedback loop. Our website provides full details of this operation. There are similarly-focused NGOs in other countries (see website of Population Matters), but not yet in Israel it appears. It would take only a half dozen stout-hearted members of ISEES to get a credible NGO going…. Don’t wait for the governing board of ISEES to take on this task!

    from the article: In Israel, population growth is an issue to be avoided at all costs
    First published 17:48 02.10.13 | Last updated 17:48 02.10.13
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