Paris climate talks downplay overpopulation crisis

2015-12-07 12:00

The UN’s climate change convention in Paris does not acknowledge the human population crisis.

Instead, they continue to place emphasis on ‘sustainable development’, ‘sustained economic growth’ and the ‘eradication of poverty’. All this talk about creating a ‘green economy’ will most likely amount to nothing more than cosmetic changes.

More green technologies, more renewable sources of energy, more biodegradable packaging, more solar panels, more carbon offset projects, more carbon cap and trade schemes, more recycling, and more of us switching to efficient light bulbs.

As smart scientists have pointed out, energy efficiency is a ‘false god’ if it still requires consuming the Earth. In any event, any benefits to be gained will be offset by population growth.

One of the central obstacles to climate change is that key social institutions view overpopulation as a ‘myth’. For example, the Vatican opposes contraception and deny the ecological effects of population growth.

Patriarchies continue to resist contraception as babies are symbols of male virility. Women in these cultures have little say in family planning. Their limited education also confines them to early and frequent childbearing.

Industries are not complaining about the increasing stocks of cheap labour they have in order to stay competitive in the global market. Corporations are even going as far as providing support to working mothers to produce more babies.

And politicians know that any talk about family planning is a minefield. Even mainstream environmental organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth do not view overpopulation as a major environmental threat.

While it is true that most greenhouse gases are produced by a relatively small population of rich industrialised countries as a result of their extravagant lifestyles, the billions of consumers in poor countries are also beginning to place a heavy burden on the earth’s ecological system.

These consumers, believing in the myth that they will also find happiness by the shallow consumption of a multitude of silly products and spectacles, are demanding a life of material abundance, and entrepreneurs and politicians are doing whatever they can to profit from these demands.

Meanwhile, those who oppose endless population growth and mindless economic growth are accused of standing in the way of progress even though these issues are leading the human race under the sea and not to the Promised Land.

There is no miracle technological solution to the climate problem. You simply cannot have a credible climate policy unless you also have a population policy. So when will leaders addressing climate change acknowledge and address the overpopulation crisis?

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