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Population growth, the real issue at hand…

If you live in a bit of a bubble, where you follow environmental news closely, it’s easy for your green sensibility to become take on a bit of a blue tinge. There is an absolute tidal wave of ugly information and projections coming in right now. The Great Barrier Reef and its abundant ecosystem becoming a thing of legend, and billions facing water shortages and millions more malnourished, are just some of the issues humanity faces with increasing global temperatures. The IPCC is to release its carefully worded update on the situation soon, so keep your eyes fixed here for all the breaking news on climate change (if your spirit can take the beating). Gristmill has some interesting commentary on the upcoming IPCC report, and is also a good place to watch in these exciting/horrifying times. I am just one blue greenie, and I cannot be expected to cover all these issues alone.

One thing I can say is this: anybody remember when people used to talk a lot about overpopulation? People hardly talk about population issues at all anymore, except in the context of aging populations in rich countries and the threat this poses to pensions and whatnot. It’s become a somewhat forbidden topic, and it’s not surprising, considering the overly politically correct times we live in. It takes a semi-dictatorship such as China to address population issues, and only then when they see growing population as a threat domestically. The fact remains that we’d all have a lot more wealth if there were simply fewer of us sharing what’s available. I don’t think it’s right for rich countries to stealthily fund contraception in poorer countries, but I do think the issue should be first re-acknowledged and then, our best selves could try to bring everyone to the table and make some sort of global compact for everyone’s good. But good luck with that, eh? The problem is everyone would have to agree to make sacrifices, and students at my local university don’t even want to pay for universal bus passes since it might make them a hundred bucks poorer and they never consider setting foot in public transportation. Only the very best characteristics of humanity would see the rich agreeing to cutting their consumption drastically in solidarity while the poor countries agree to cut fertility and everyone cooperates in moving people, technology, and resources to make the best of a difficult transition period. Just the thought of that kind of collective will and sacrifice is enough to make one’s spirit shiver if you don’t skip hope and dreams altogether and rush straight to cynicism. No matter how many times hopes are crushed, it’s important to keep dreaming, isn’t it?

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