In a world containing seven billion people needing food, energy and other means to survival, the question is ever more urgent as the effects of human-fueled climate change close in.
A 2011 documentary examines every facet of this question, from the point of view of those who serve as the gateway: women.
In honor of Earth Day the makers of the award-winning environmental documentary Mother: Caring for 7 Billion are livestreaming the hour-long film starting on Friday April 19. It will run continuously on the filmmakers’ website and on YouTube through the end of May.
“We want Mother to be viewed by as many people as possible for Earth Day because Mother holds up a mirror and shows people a very different way to look at their role on this planet,” said director and co-producer Christophe Fauchere in a statement.
“This is not your father’s population documentary,” wrote Grist senior editor Lisa Hymas upon the film’s release. “Mother takes a feminist/humanist view as it explores the issues of our exploding numbers.”
The opening sequence is stark, a black-and-white pile of squalling infants being powdered and diapered en masse by hands as big as they are. Between this sight and the camera, a row of bellowing babies files by on a conveyor belt. American Beth Osnes, the youngest of 10 children, serves as a protagonist of sorts, discovering along with the viewer her role in the population crisis. It makes her rethink her entire family-planning philosophy.
Simply put, “Our demand for resources is increasing, but the size of the planet is not,” says Mathis Wackernagel, executive director of the Global Footprint Network, an organization devoted to creating sustainability.
"We have reached a real important threshold in our relationship with the planet," intones a voiceover. "We are the major agent of change."
View the full film below as it is livestreamed, through the end of May.