Fewer British Babies Would Mean a Fairer Planet

population-controlIt’s not the growing number of people in poverty who are causing climate change, it’s the rich

By Alex Renton

The worst thing that you or I can do for the planet is to have children. If they behave as the average person in the rich world does now, they will emit some 11 tonnes of CO² every year of their lives. In their turn, they are likely to have more carbon-emitting children who will make an even bigger mess. If Britain is to meet the government’s target of an 80% reduction in our emissions by 2050, we need to start reversing our rising rate of population growth immediately.

And if that makes sense, why not start cutting population everywhere? Are condoms not the greenest technology of all?

World population is forecast to peak at 9.2bn by 2050. According to a report by the LSE for the Optimum Population Trust, the lobbying body currently asking parents to “Stop at Two”, it would cost $220m to provide the family planning that would reduce the 2050 population by half a billion, preventing the emission of 34 gigatonnes of carbon. Introducing low-carbon technology for the same result would cost more than $1 trillion.

So why does population control hardly feature on the agendas of the UN bodies or of the governments now committed to tackling climate change? And why do the development and environmental groups shy away from it? The Guardian’s George Monbiot dismisses the topic as a distraction, the obsession largely of “post-reproductive, middle-class white men… a group more responsible for environmental destruction than any other class in history”. David King, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, argues: “The only way to tackle climate change is to change the way energy is used by those of us that have already been born.”

It is certainly true that “fewer people equals a greener planet” is simplistic. In 2050, 95% of the extra population will be poor and the poorer you are, the less carbon you emit. By today’s standards, a cull of Australians or Americans would be at least 60 times as productive as one of Bangladeshis.

As a result, NGOs such as Oxfam, for whom I’ve just written a report on climate change’s impact on humans, insist that dealing with consumption in the rich world is much more important than tackling population growth. According to the International Energy Agency, if the whole world moved over to clean electricity, the CO² savings would offset the emissions of up to 2.8bn poor people, easily accounting for the entire extra population forecast for 2050.

But what if we can’t reform the way we produce and use energy? The most worrying of climate change’s impacts – food and water shortages, forced migration, health epidemics – are exacerbated by population growth. According to two recent polls, nine out of 10 scientists working in climate change don’t believe we will achieve the changes in energy use committed to by the G8 and the EU. If they are right, population is going to start to matter a lot. Don’t we need a fallback plan?

Read the rest of this piece at The Guardian.

22 Responses to Fewer British Babies Would Mean a Fairer Planet

  1. Edward Mike October 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    WHO should stop having babies. Europeans are not having enough babies to maintain the European culture. In France, the French are having 1.8 babies per couple, whereas the Muslims are having 8.1 babies per couple. Methinks thee are preaching to the choir. Put the onus where it belongs.

  2. Neil F. AGWD October 28, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Any exuse to dust off The Population Bomb, I guess. What is wrong with these people? For every percieved crisis the solution is always the same. Btw I love the picture!!!!!!

  3. Nick Winstone-Cooper October 30, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    If people want to be ‘scientific’ then they should get their formulas right at least. When did CO2 have a superscript 2?

  4. Zidni October 30, 2009 at 9:58 pm #

    There’s a fallacy to equate having babies (more population) in the exact equal of pollution. We must focus on the behavior of polluting itself.

  5. ClydeP October 31, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    WTF? Japan, Russia and all of Europe’s birth rate has fallen to unsustainable levels meanwhile, as EW says, the muslims are dropping out babies like crazy.

    One’s ignorance really is exposed when a superscript is used instead of a subscript.

  6. Herb November 2, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    Isn’t the Peace Price winning Obama still using those Muslims as target practice?

  7. Mark Lamont Brown November 2, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

    If Al Gore killed himself, imagine how much CO2 redux there would be, not to mention the hot air…

  8. Rob N. Hood November 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    Yes Herb he is. That is why I wonder why the blood-thristy right doesn’t like him for that. Go figure the Right. They hate the Left no matter what they do.

    • Mark Lamont Brown November 2, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

      Probably Because the left do nothing useful except screw countries up and coin phrases like “useful idiots”

  9. Rob N. Hood November 4, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    Sorry, Mark, but the Left doesn’t do this- it is the fascist Right that does. This country is Right, and you apparenty should be happy about that, but you guys are sore winners. Amazing.

    • Mark Lamont Brown November 7, 2009 at 12:07 am #

      Yeah Rob, so you say. you would love to have a “Soylent Green” Scenario so that you could blip around gleefully shrilling how you told us so!!!

  10. paul wenum November 6, 2009 at 12:52 am #

    What the hell did I just read? People get a life. Or should I say, Keep one??

  11. Marija November 6, 2009 at 1:23 am #

    I agree with Edward Mike’s comment. Wake up people! Your countries are being taken over, while you sleep, allowing Muslims to have more than one wife and populating the world at an alarming rate! It’s the frog in the jar of water syndrome. The frog did not realize it was being slowly boiled to death until it was too late!!!

  12. Rob N. Hood November 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    Wow… more hysteria, paranoia, and racism. This country will have more Hispanics in the relatively near future according to current trends, and I KNOW you are worried about that too! Gee, hmmm, I know! Let’s all of us, the good white ones, get it on and and start cranking out those kiddys! Come on!!! Yeeeha!!!!!

    I want more than one wife too, dammit!

    • Mark Lamont Brown November 7, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

      My wife is hispanic, guess I am responsible too!

  13. paul wenum November 8, 2009 at 12:49 am #

    I have been to England numerous times and I must say they definitely have their opinions. I, however, would rather go North to Scotland were they are semi-normal in their thought process, and I’m a Scot! Dribble this is, and why it is discussed is beyond my comprehension.

  14. Rob N. Hood November 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    No mark you aren’t “responsible”. There is nothing to be “responsible” about. it is only bigots and Nazis who care about the “browning of America.” It is inevitable. Maybe some day we will all be the same color. It would be BORING, and we would probably come up with some other inane reason to hate each other. Did I say “probably”?!!

  15. paul wenum November 10, 2009 at 1:01 am #

    You like that word “hate”don’t you Boy. Nice word, I guess.

  16. Rob N. Hood November 10, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    You’re weird Mr. Wenum. What if I was black? (I could be, you don’t know) – You calling me “boy” all the time would become pretty awkward dontcha think massah? Problem with you Paul is YOU DONT REALLY THINK, you just react.

    Get a new hobbie, or a life.

  17. paul wenum November 10, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    My best and closest dear friend is black! I’m not PC Boy! I don’t react, I speak my convictions right, wrong or indiffent. you have a problem with that?
    Obviously you do. You think and talk like a “child” which by the way, is a “Boy.”

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