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Dare I Speak of Over-Population and Global Warming?

Dare I Speak of Over-Population and Global Warming?

Seven billion people don’t always (ever) see eye to eye on sensitive issues such as the significance of global warming. So, with an ever-growing, or rather booming population, serious issues surrounding long-term sustainability must be addressed globally. How can/will we provide life’s necessities (clean water, food, peace etc.) to more and more people with a diminishing pool of resources due to global warming?

We, as global citizens, are using the earth’s natural resources at an alarming rate. And it doesn’t help that the way in which we devour our resources (without too much thought) creates an immense amount of harmful pollution. We generate a cycle of waste, pollution and further inability to harbor sufficient resources.

Also consider that how we choose to use resources directly affects the kind of society in which we live. I consider myself to be an avid supporter of peace. And I believe that there are really two basic motives for unpeaceful behavior; vying for attention or vying for resources. Hopefully, by the time we leave grade school we have outgrown the former (although admittedly not everyone has,) and by the time we are adults the focus falls on the latter.

As a result of the unfair divide of valuable resources competition emerges, the rapid depletion of our natural resources only exacerbates global competition. So yes, I believe that global warming’s effect on our natural resources may lead to conflict and result in wars.

So we have a couple options…

1) Create more resources. This could be done with artificial/genetically modified food, or damming rivers that would naturally flow to the ocean, etc. Theoretically, we could accommodate for drought, war and various natural disasters that hinder our human ability to gather and maintain natural resources. I’m not advocating this, merely presenting it as something that we already do in part.

2) Limit population growth so that the natural resources we have will sustain a steady flow of population. Let me be clear, I am not advocating for this either considering I am the youngest of four kids where things were always exciting and always a lot of fun. Not to mention, I don’t feel anyone should be able to dictate the kind of family I choose to have.

Sadly, neither of these basic proposals account for the pollution that is invariably created from people, so man-made pollution will have to be addressed some other time (maybe another post for someone more ambitious than I.)

Strategies/Solutions

As I have read up on the subject, here are couple of interesting, specific strategies that I have seen proposed as viable solutions or parts of a solution to global warming, in regards to over-population;

A “green” advisor to the Prime Minister of Britain suggested two children per family cap, so that population growth will slow and hopefully, eventually shrink. (I will question the ethics a little further down, so if you are angry at this, so am I. Hold on, I’ll get there.)

The Gates Foundation chooses to approach this same problem from quite a different angle, arguing that the introduction of basic human rights will reduce population. Their evidence shows that birth rates are highest in developing nations, citing that where the mortality rate is alarmingly high women choose to have more children in hopes that some will survive. But by lowering the infant mortality rate and eradicating fatal yet preventable diseases (like malaria and HIV/AIDS,) the birth rate will decrease. They pair these strategies with educating and empowering women and introducing family planning. Together, they hope to slow population growth by establishing human rights. (Personally, I love this idea.)

Ethics

I have a lot of questions about the ethics behind population control or lack of control. And by no means do I have comprehensive solutions for all (or any) of them. I have put my own viewpoints in parenthesis, so if you don’t care for my voice, by all means skip my commentary. I invite your thoughts and opinions about any or all of the following…

Is it ethical for governments to dictate how many children a family can have? (Since I have an opinion, I’ll insert it here. We all know this is something that China has done for years, limiting one child per family, but I think this strategy is detrimental to its society. For one thing, it dampens the progress of gender equality that we have achieved. With the one child per family law, the value of baby boys intensifies and many baby girls are abandoned or shunned. Admittedly, there are many other problems with this system too.)

Should the same rules/limitations apply to families that choose to adopt children?

Is it ethical to use fertility drugs to produce multiple child births? Where should the line be drawn: twins, triplets or more?

Is it anti-green to have children at all? Another blogger I read asked; how green is it to have kids in a world of dwindling resources, vast global inequality, terrifying climate change scenarios and dying empty seas? (I’m not sure I’m with her on this, but there are a lot of people who feel this way.)

How do we survive on the resources that we do have? Is it more environmentally friendly to resort back to our hunter-gatherers roots which were more harmonious with the environment? (Personally, I think there are too many people these days for that kind of life, not to mention we’ve destroyed too much wildlife and land for this through industrialization, but I saw it proposed anyway.)

What will it take for us (all 7 billion or whatever number we will amount to) to live on this planet, in harmony with the planet? (Promote education and human rights.)

Reflection

Over-population is something that has been on my mind for a while, but I’ve never really settled on one solid solution because it seems too daunting a task that raises all sorts of ethical questions. The Global Population Speak Out campaign is calling on people all over the world to speak out publicly on the population issue throughout the month of February, 2009. By talking about the problem, together we can brainstorm solutions.

Ultimately, for any solution there must be a combination of approaches to tackle the ever growing disaster that is global warming, and ethics should never be left out. Thankfully, it is the diversity of ideas that leads to the best possible suggestions to move forward. So, I invite you to diversify my solutions by adding your thoughts and comments.

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135 comments

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8:17PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Interesting article and comments, thank you.

8:17PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Interesting article and comments, thank you.

10:52AM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

Perhaps the octomom is helping to show the folly of there being too many people. But seriously, folks, in the USA we could start with asking whether a Roman Catholic hospital, which has no qualms about interfering with God's plan for a patient to die -- unless the patient actually wants to die sooner than God and the doctors would have it, has any Freedom of Religion right to deny access to contraception. There was a perfectly honest clergyman, the Rev. Thomas Malthus, who declared succinctly that the alternatives are "restraint, vice, or misery". Most of us, unlike the Rev. Thomas, would classify a condom as restraint rather than vice.

4:32AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Why am I getting message to this in my message inbox when I have not selected to???????

1:24PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

(SORRY MY COMMENT WAS "ABRIDGED" BY CHARACTER LIMITS.) ...so to conclude...My husband and I made an informed choice to limit our family to one child. We did so in the hope that our child and everyone else's children would inherit a world that could support a life of meaning and peace in a global village that just keeps getting smaller. If we allow the discomfort of addressing the subject directly or the reality that some do not wish to make having children a thoughtful choice then we will face a world of diminished, if not vanished, resources and will then have no choices left and stricter, forced policies will be enforced.


1:07PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

While I can understand the discomfort some may feel about policies that advocate limiting family size or even discussion of them I personally do not share the discomfort. The reality is that WE MUST LIMIT POPULATION GROWTH NOW VOLUNTARILY OR IT WILL BE LIMITED BY NON-VOLUNTARY MEANS LATER! I do not, of course, want to see the kind of limits enforced in such a draconian manner as in China and do recognize the "side effects" such a policy can have but I do think that there are legitimate ways to use public policy to encourage more people to have only one child. Here in the U.S. we allow people income tax deductions for every child they have. That seems patiently unfair to me, even though I recognize the "pro-family" sensibility from which this policy comes. If I go to a restaurant I don't pay less when I take more people, I pay to purchase all the food my family will actually consume. It should be the same with taxes, offer a deduction for one child including additional deductions in the case of multiple births that are natural and perhaps a half deduction for a second child with additional deductions for adopted children. After that there should be no deduction and I would even support a reverse deduction for any "third" children or more that a family chooses to have. This allows families to make their own choices while recognizing that there are costs to such choices that other families with fewer children should not have to share. My husband and I made an informed choice to

8:22AM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

And now "globalization" and greedy US corporations are exacerbating his problem by bringing massive industrialization to highly populated third world countries. By employing millions in these countries, they are giving these people the false hope that they can now afford bigger families and more electronic toys and automobiles which will just increase pollution. Then, when they find people elsewhere who will work for less, they will just pull up stakes and leave these people stranded.

5:26AM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

The comment was from THE HINDU and about population explosion in India.
I live in this country and I feel that we seriously need to have a TOTAL HALT on populationfor atleast 5 years irrespective of caste, creed and financial status of the individual.
A heavy tax has to be imposed after the birth of the 1st child.
ronically the population is increasing in below poverty line people and with particular community.
The government is quiet because it needs VOTES so more the merrier. Who cares about the country, its limitation of housing, its limitation to provide food, clean water, sanitation, health and education??????????????????? And environment?????????

11:58AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

My comments are best read back to front
I just kept writing as I consider this topic the most important to consider if we are all to survive
Compare our age with the two hundred years that proceeded it-They had a different value system and it might be worth considering bringing that value system back again
Malthus and Adam Smith and Burke were writing at a time often accused of being fiull of the grossest materialism and avariciousness by which I mean love of money and comfort particularly technologically faciliitated comfort.; Yet at this time liesure was esteemed a luxury and a right
and men were considered to be compensated by wages for forgoing it.

What peole did with this precious time was to commune with each other and with nature and with the wisdom and the knowledge of past times,play musical instruments if only a penny whistle,singif only chanties and ballads,listen to recitals of poetry if only the boy stood on the burning deck or a patriotic piece of jingo in the local pub,savor alcohol,food,if only in cheap eateries underground for coachman,walk in the country
if only their time was half a sunday or Whitsuntide,dance,watch plays,discuss news and events even if they had to pool their farthings to pay for the penny newspaper,or relied on the taler or the writings of Steele and Addison in the coffee house

They also indulged of course in rather cruel practices like bull and bearbaiting and racing
and circuses-but tthose that knew,knewknew that their real

11:49AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

One solution never discussed is changing our values-value change can be quick-for instance within a decade after the second world war ,in Australia the image of the Japanese had changed from the devil of the yellow peril out to invade us and maybe roast our babies on bayonets as the Gertman's were said to be doing in Belgium ,to a Japanese image of Giesha girls and cherry blossoms and a pleasant civaiised place to take that longed for holiday

During the war-grow your own in victory gardens and recycle everything caught on quickly
we are at war now with the elements and they are giving back as good as they are getting from us,and a lot of what is happening can be traced to our expectation of the"good life"

That is a life with plenty of electronics,throwaway clothes and furniture,petrol guzzling cars,constant distraction and "entertainment frequently gaged as to quality by it's cost

The life includes a constant race to "keep up with the Joneses" which is rather like the race Alice indulged in in company with the queen in "Alice
in Wonderland" (a race where you had to run very fast merely to stay in the same spot)

In short a round of inaninity if viewed from some angles.Our life is short "men are but shadows chasing shadows"as Burke said

He was writing at a time often accused of being fiull of the grossest materialism and avariciousness by which I mean love of money and comfort particularly technologically faciliitated comfort.; Yet at this time liesure was

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