The root problem: too many people?

world population by 2050

The question is being raised more and more. In the coming era of climate change and peak oil, where resources are becoming depleted and carbon emissions change the weather, isn’t the underlying problem one of overpopulation?

SusHI raises the question in a thoughtful post (the graph is from them) as does an Op-Ed in The Guardian.

As the environment finally gets the prominence it deserves, some environmentalists are prepared to assert that population management has to be on the agenda.

There’s no point giving up your meat and your car, recycling your rubbish and producing lots of children. The challenge is to have that debate while steering well clear of racism – or of the authoritarianism that lurks in the background of environmentalism.

China mandates that families only have two children. An unfortunate result of this is that first-born girls sometimes are deliberately killed so the parents can try to have boys instead. There’s little chance repressive authoritarian methods like that could ever be instituted in the U.S., nor should they be. And the obvious racism that could happen when an area decides to keep Them out must also be avoided.

Optimum Population ran the numbers and concluded

Even if the world managed to achieve a 52 per cent cut in its 1990 emission levels by 2050 – not far off the IPCC’s 60 per cent target – it would be canceled out by population growth.

Can the planet really handle 2.5 billion more people in the next 43 years? I doubt it. Sane and rational ways to slow population growth need to be found else Mother Nature might do it for us.