Population control is not the answer

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Population control is not the answer

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[url=http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=689#more-689]Population Control: 10 Reasons Why It's the Wrong Answer[/url]

 

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Population Control: 10 Reasons Why It's the Wrong Answer
May 30, 2009

We need to build stronger links and collaboration with movements for climate justice in the global South - not draw up plans to reduce their numbers

by Simon Butler
Green Left Weekly

Without doubt, climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. The scientific evidence of the scale of the threat is overwhelming, compelling and frightening. Climate tipping points - points which if crossed will lead to runaway global warming - are being crossed now.

We live in a time of consequences. So it's crucial that the climate justice movement - made up of those determined to take a stand now to win a safe climate future - campaigns for the changes that can actually make a difference.

In Australia, a discussion has surfaced about whether population control measures should be a key plank in the climate action movement's campaign arsenal. Below are 10 reasons why such a decision would hinder, rather than help, the necessary task of building a movement that can win.

1. Population does not cause climate change

Advocates of population control say that one of the most effective measures we can take to combat climate change is to sharply reduce the number of humans on the planet. This wrongly focuses on treating one symptom of an irrational, polluting system rather than dealing with the root causes.

People are not pollution. Blaming too many people for driving climate change is like blaming too many trees for causing bushfires.

The real cause of climate change is an economy locked into burning fossil fuels for energy and unsustainable agriculture. Unless we transform the economy and our society along sustainable lines as rapidly as possible, we have no hope of securing an inhabitable planet, regardless of population levels.

Population-based arguments fail to admit that population levels will impact on the environment in a very different way in a zero-emissions economy. Making the shift to renewable energy - not reduction in human population - is really the most urgent task we face.

 

Policywonk

There is a legitimate question as to whether the existing population can feed itself without fossil fuels, and not just for fuel, but for fertilizer. And too many people requiring food leads inexorably to soil depletion and erosion, which has happened without fossil fuel-based agriculture. Which is not to say that population levels won't impact on the environment in a very different way if anthropogenic emissions were reduced to levels that could be absorbed easily by carbon sinks (a zero-emissions economy is a pipe dream, because not all of our emissions are from fossil fuels). However the first postulate is not entirely true; population does cause climate change, but hardly to the same extent fossil fuel use does. Social justice includes not only climate justice, but also the social conditions in which birth rates will go down, not plans to reduce population levels as such.

It's not a question of whether population levels cause or even contribute to climate change in any case, as population levels will crash inevitably. The question is how this will happen. And not just a shift to renewable energy, but a reduction in the use of energy, is required.