Climate Change and Human Population Growth

OK-read this through to the end…it starts out sounding REALLY
sketchy-but don’t be put off until U finish it: the truth of the matter
lies in the last 2 paragraphs.

Duh…the Tribes have always known this. So do the churches, the
militarists, the factory/plantation owners-in short, the pigs….& that’s
why this power gets taken from wimmin in the 1st place.

ASW

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http://www.time.com/time <http://www.time.com/time>

Monday, May. 12, 2008

What Condoms Have to Do with Climate Change
By Bryan Walsh

As the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden
should have some insight on the biggest threats facing the U.S. But when
Hayden recently described what he saw as the most troublesome trend over
the next several decades, it wasn’t terrorism or climate change. It was
overpopulation in the poorest parts of the world. “By mid-century, the
best estimates point to a world population of more than 9 billion,” Hayden
said in a speech at Kansas State University. “Most of that growth will
occur in countries least able to sustain it.” The sheer increase in
population, Hayden argued, could fuel instability and extremism, not to
mention worsening climate change and making food and fuel all the more
scarce. Population is the essential multiplier for any number of human
ills.

Back in the 1970s, Hayden’s argument wouldn’t have been surprising. That
era, which saw the birth of the modern environmental movement (the first
Earth Day was observed in 1970), was obsessed with the idea of global
limits, that without drastic intervention, we were doomed to
overpopulation. Books like Paul Erhlich’s /The Population Bomb/ warned
that the Earth was reaching the end of its carrying capacity, and that
within decades, hundreds of millions of people would starve to death. The
only way to avoid this Malthusian fate was rigid population control, which
many environmentalists were in favor of.

Fast-forward 30 years, however, and the situation has changed. The mass
famines that Erhlich and others prophesied never happened, and while
population growth has continued — an estimated 6.8 billion people now
live on Earth — and on the whole, the world is better off today than it
has ever been. A Green Revolution helped a growing planet feed itself,
while the forces of globalization helped lift hundreds of millions in the
developing world out of poverty, even as population continued to rise. As
the years passed, overpopulation has dropped from the
vocabulary of most environmentalists, partially due to the controversies
that surrounded state-mandated birth control in countries like China, with
its one-child policy. Though simple arithmetic will tell you that the
bigger the global population becomes, the harder it will be to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, you rarely see the population
connection made explicit in major environmental reports.
“Environmentalists came to realize how complicated and sensitive this
issue was,” says Robert Engleman, vice-president for programs at the
Worldwatch Institute, and the author of the new book /More: Population,
Nature and What Women Want./ “People didn’t want to tell their neighbors
and friends how to have kids.”

But now, the pendulum is shifting back. The sudden spike in both food and
fuel prices is raising concerns that we may not be able to grow forever,
that even with the best technological innovation, the planet may have
limits. It’s becoming increasingly clear that if we can’t curb carbon
emissions in a world of 6.8 billion, it may be impossible to do when there
are 9 billion of us. And while population growth has slowed drastically in
many countries in Western Europe and in Japan, where women are having
fewer and fewer babies, it’s still rising in much of the developed world
— and for that matter, in the United States. “You really can’t talk about
the supply and demand imbalance that is sending energy and food prices up
without acknowledging that we are adding 78 million people each year, the
equivalent of a new Idaho every week,” says Engleman.

The question remains though: what can we do about population?
State-mandated birth control is essentially unfair — and a policy no
American government would ever support. But in his new book, Engleman
makes the argument that the government doesn’t need to get involved. The
key to limiting population growth, he says, is to give control over
procreation to women. In society after society, even in countries where
large families have always been the norm, when women take control over
family size, birth rates shrink. “They don’t have to be coerced,” says
Engleman. “This will happen as long as women are in charge.”

I’ve seen this transition happen myself. In Japan, where I spent a year as
a foreign correspondent, large families were once the norm, and women
rarely worked. That’s changed — and Japan’s birth rate has plummeted —
as women seek professional and personal fulfillment beyond having
children. But that change has yet to occur in those parts of the
developing world that are growing fastest, such as Uganda, where
population is rising at 3.6%, the highest rate in the world. That’s what
Gen. Hayden is worried about — that bursting population will turn
struggling nations like Uganda into basket cases, with political and
environmental consequences for the rest of the world. For the U.S., the
best option is vigorous foreign aid that helps make contraception safe,
reliable and accessible in every country — too often women in the
developing world who want to use contraception, can’t get it. “The funding
for contraception aid has been stagnant for decades,” says Engleman.
“Americans need to influence their government to get behind this.” If we
don’t, we may find out very soon just what the limits of the Earth are.
It’s not just feminism to support population control — it’s
environmentalism.

William N. Ryerson
President
Population Media Center

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