Further to Chris Hedges' warnings about how we're breeding like bunnies all the way to extinction, population expert Betsy Hartmann argues that, instead of punishing women in poor countries, what's needed is ''effective and equitable environmental and climate policy.''
Today's population alarmists are stuck back in the 1960s when high rates of population growth made it look as if the world was experiencing a population explosion. But much has changed since then. While world population is projected to increase from 6.7 billion today to about 9 billion in 2050, the rate of growth has slowed considerably. The average number of children born to a woman in the Global South is now 2.75, and the UN predicts this figure will drop to 2.05 by 2050.
Moreover, the few countries that still have relatively high birth rates, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, have the least impact on environmental factors such as global warming. From 1950-2000, the entire continent of Africa was responsible for only 2.5% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Though it is impossible to predict exactly what world population will look like further in the future, most demographers agree we are on the path toward population stabilization with families all across the globe having two children or less. In fact, demographers tend to be more concerned these days about declining population growth and population aging than they are about too many people.
In addition to ignoring the numbers, the focus on overpopulation obscures the ways different economic and political systems perpetuate poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. It places the blame on the people with the least amount of resources and power rather than on corrupt governments and rich elites. The biggest security threat facing the world right now is the economic crisis, caused by a small coterie of greedy financiers and lax governments, ours in particular.
And here comes the punchline:
So it's completely up to us here in the land of minivans and fresh blueberries in February, large houses and air conditioning, to change radically .
I wonder if we can.
A friend and I were talking this past weekend about how we have no choice yet we still don't see it.
But ot's a perfect storm now, a convergence of many factors: the economy, especially the fiscal mess to the south of us, the environmental crisis, the inevitable drying up of the world's oil and fresh water, major shifts in the mediascape plus the presence, if not the participation, of generations raised with communication and organizing tools unlike any that have come before.
If Gutenberg helped launch the Industrial Revolution by allowing people to exchange information and share ideas, imagine what might happen at relative hyper velocity superspeed online, and with who-knows-what doohickey gets invented tomorrow.
I'm not sure whether to be excited ... or afraid.