Why start TooMuchTooMany?

Reasons for starting TooMuchTooMany:

  • Much energy is spent on debating whether overconsumption is a bigger environmental concern than population growth.  Agreement is unlikely ever to be reached. So, to move on, TooMuchTooMany considers them as one: Human Impacts. The main issue for an animal losing its habitat is not to gain international consensus on whether the reason for the loss is more people wanting its habitat or the same number wanting more of it. This debate diverts attention from dealing with both threats.
  • The overconsumption v. population growth debate acts as a negative way to frame a debate by seeking to make one group of people more to blame than another. Perhaps we all need to accept that we all have some responsibility, in different ways, and focus on our own impacts.
  • Human Impact literature is often academic, focusing on statistical projections not impacts on the ground. As a result, a fascinating topic is not given the public attention it deserves. A new approach is needed, looking at the effects on actual human communities and wildlife. This will highlight the significance of the concerns, in a more accessible way, to a wider audience than statistics.
  • Some Human Impact literature pits the interests of humans (and their living standards) against the interests of nature. However, increased Human Impacts generally have negative implications for both. A more fruitful debate might be had by joining these two concerns, looking at common threats to human living standards and nature from Human Impacts and working out ways to ease them.

A farmer tends his cattle in what little space remains between a Cape Town township and a river
A farmer tends his cattle in what little space remains between a Cape Town township and a river

Why South Africa?

South Africa is neither a country with a notably high population for its size nor one with of one Africa’s higher population growth rates. With a population of around 50 million, South Africa’s population is about ten million fewer than that of the UK (and South Africa is five times the size). This means South Africa still has an opportunity of saving aspects of the country which have been lost in the UK and other more densely populated countries, such as wilderness areas, for instance.

South African townships are horrifically overcrowded. Nationwide there are about 40 people per km2 living in South Africa although, of course, that statistic hides enormous disparities when comparing areas. The densities in townships (near work opportunities) are clearly substantially worse than the nationwide average; they’d likely be only more horrendous with a higher population unless other issues are dealt with. In the UK, there are over 250 people per km2.