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Earth Day Documentary Asks, 'Are There Too Many Of Us For Planet Earth?'

April, 2021

The QCC Environmental Science Program, in partnership with the Diversity Caucus recently banded together to host a combined Earth Day and Stand Against Racism Event with the viewing of “8 Billion Angels.” 

The YWCA’s annual Stand Against Racism campaign provides the opportunity for communities across the United States to find an issue or cause that inspires them to take a #StandAgainstRacism and to unite their voices to educate, advocate, and promote racial justice. This documentary film was the perfect issue for all three groups to get behind and sheds light on the impact of unsustainable growth, how this is intertwined with racial and societal differences, and how humanity's demand for resources exceeds Earth's supply.

An important part of the film’s discussion addressed women’s rights, empowerment and environmental justice. It has been documented that population rates go down when women are educated, and in the documentary the example of Kerala, India was used to demonstrate the importance of educating girls as well as boys, to help with unsustainable population growth. India has historically offered free education only to boys, yet Kerala has bucked that trend and offered education to both girls and boys and Kerala’s population is far lower than the national average.

“My family is actually from Kerala and that's where my grandparents live, all my cousins, my aunts and uncles live. They were all Keralites. And so one of the things that we're all very proud of is the high literacy rate in the state of Kerala, specifically for women and then how that has brought that (population number) down,” said QCC Environmental Science/Physical Science Professor Anita Soracco, noting that "education is key," in helping with unsustainable population growth.

The powerful groundbreaking documentary connected all of the planet’s environmental emergencies, including climate change, with unsustainable population growth. The film’s impactful message weaves together the voices of ordinary people around the world (from Kansas and Maine, to Japan and India) as they confront the growing impact of overpopulation on their lives, as well as the health of the planet's rivers, oceans, land and air.

After the film, an important panel discussion featured the Documentary Film Director Terry Spahr; Professor Soracco; QCC Environmental Science Professor Mark Duvall; Worcester Polytechnic Institute Associate Professor of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability, Laureen Elgert, Ph.D.(who is also co-director for the Ecuador Project Center) and Communications Manager Hannah Evans, of Population Connection. They took part in the candid discussion that connected the impact of the issues raised in the film with social and environmental justice.

“Like any other species that adapts successfully to its environment, we eventually overshoot those resources, and that species either has to eventually move from that environment or contract. The problem is we've essentially run out of places to go and new areas to exploit. We've essentially invaded every corner of the globe and so it’s a real challenge that we have,” Mr. Spahr said. “The question is, do we have the wisdom and I think the capacity to acknowledge this and address this impending crisis with honesty and compassion?”

For questions or to learn more about the documentary, email Professor Soracco at asoracco [at] qcc.mass.edu. Visit Environmental Science to learn more about QCC's program. 

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