Population Growth and Climate Change

Keskiviikko 28.7.2021 klo 19:00 - Mikko Nikinmaa

When one says that stopping population growth is an important component of combatting climate change and deterioration of environment in general, one is often accused of being racist or if not that, claimed to be just another person from rich industrialized countries trying to shift the focus from our overconsumption to the poor countries, who use hardly any resources. However, I would say that people claiming that population growth should not be discussed when addressing climate change and environmental deterioration are themselves not considering the poor people and their social justice, and are instead effectively saying: “Yes, we in rich countries should decrease our consumption, but people in the poor countries should not strive to increase their standard of living to enable sustainable life.”

Recently, Wolff, Ripple and Crist wrote in Sustainability Science (https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-021-00951-w; April 2021) about the need of stopping population growth in combatting climate change and environmental deterioration. They and I are aware that the compulsory decrease of childbearing is not the way to go forward, because that is both racist and colonial thinking of the rich. But there are two major ways with which the number of children can be decreased and which improve the quality of life of those concerned. First, women’s status in many of the poor countries should be improved. It is very unfortunate that often the macho male superiority persists and women are hardly anything but childbearing machines; the status of males can depend on the number of children. In the patriarchal societies, women can be raped, forced to marry as children and only go out if accompanied by a male. Second, and associated with the first, women’s education should be improved. Wherever these actions have been done, birth rate has decreased radically. To a smaller extent the same happens with male education, so improving education is a very good way of affecting population growth. However, education is strongly suppressed by authoritarian societies like the Taliban, ISIS and Saudi societies.

Social equality within the poor societies is a great problem, but inequality between rich North and poor South is an even bigger problem. It is terrible that some billionaires spend millions to go to a short space flights for fun instead of using the money for education in poor countries. Well, greed is the major cause of climate change and environmental deterioration. Also, it is quite terrible to read that many people would like to decrease developmental aid, at the same time saying that immigration from poor countries should be stopped and the causes of emigration taken care of in the poor countries themselves. How can the causes be fixed, if funds for it are not allocated? And it does not suffice to say that developmental aid should be stopped, because the money should be used for our own poor. Our own poor would be rich people in the poor countries. Besides, the same people are ready to spend a lot in policing and border control to prevent immigration. The money needed for that would decrease, if inequality between rich North and poor South would decrease by increasing developmental aid.

In addition, the immigration problem, heat waves, floods, forest fires, loss of biodiversity etc. are problems that get only worse if one does not think globally. Environmental globalism, which aims to decrease global inequality, is the key to combat climate change and environmental deterioration. 

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: social inequality, environmental deterioration, developmental aid, immigration

Populistic nationalism has failed miserably, profit-greedy globalism is dead: It is time for One Earth thinking

Maanantai 23.3.2020 klo 12:17 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The populistic nationalism has completely failed in all the major problems that humankind has faced during recent years. Despite this it is said that internationalism is having problems, not the populistic nationalism. The populists have utterly failed in:

1. The immigration/refugee question.

The populistic nationalism wants no immigration, as because of it resources must be used to supporting refugees instead of our own poor, sick, jobless and old people. Further, the immigrants are criminals, rapists etc – they just plan evil things all the time. The populist wants the immigrant problem to be solved in the immigrants’ home countries, but is against giving any money to foreign aid, since it would better be used in the populist’s home country.

In an ideal world, immigration would not be a problem, because everyone would be happy to stay where they live. The problem is the huge contrast with, e.g., rich Europe and poor Africa: when 25 world’s richest people have approximately the same wealth as 25 % of world’s population together, it is no wonder that poor Africans will want to migrate to rich Europe. The populist denounces such economic immigration, but in that case also the emigration of Europeans to America and Australia, the exodus of Finns to Sweden etc should be denounced, in most of those cases people were not under death threat but wanted a better life. Now the populist does not want that to be possible for other people.

Besides, many countries in Europe are suffering from so low birth rate that new people are needed. Because of the hostile attitude of populist nationalists, the integration of immigrants to western societies is quite difficult, and actually generates the breeding ground for different terrorist movements, violence and crime. The poor integration has persisted a long time, although even the populist was cheering for France in soccer world cup. This despite the fact that almost all players in French team were either themselves, or descendants of, those unwelcome immigrants. It must be acknowledged that one cannot accept the gender inequality, which is unfortunately very common, and the immigrant needs to accept the values of the society to which one is integrating. However, I am certain that if the immigrant feels welcome, and can fit within the working life, goo integration is more likely than in the hostile atmosphere created by the populistic nationalists.

2. Climate change and other environmental problems

As a starting point one must state that one cannot prevent any environmental contaminant or climate problem to cross national borders. Thus, a nationalistic IMG_20170804_0080.jpgapproach is doomed to fail. A common claim by populist is that: “We do what is required, but those others don’t.” And in the case of small countries like Finland, Sweden and Norway that: “Our contribution to global contamination is so small that even if we stopped all our emissions, it would change the global emissions much below 1 %.” Again, the statement that European industry is cleaner than, e.g., Indian, is true, but the populist buys Indian products, because they are much cheaper than the products made in European countries. Thus, if the populist nationalist was consequent, he would spend money to make the environmental standards of factories in Asia to conform to European standards or require that production, which has been moved away, is brought back, and thereafter only buy the domestic, more expensive products. Since neither is likely to happen, populistic nationalist fails gravely in climate issues. Notably, adopting children from poor areas would be both a climate deed and an action decreasing global inequality while increasing the number of people in countries with low reproduction rate.

3. Combatting coronavirus crisis.

The spreading of coronavirus clearly shows that today it is impossible to keep any disease within one place. Yet, all the nations have reacted to the situation by closing national borders. This fits well with the populistic nationalist thinking, but is probably not the best way to contain the disease. While it is clear that closing certain areas would have been an important component of action in any case, the most appropriate areal closures would probably not have followed national boundaries. Further, it would have been much more cost-effective, if uniform testing was done everywhere, and if, e.g. European health personnel could have been moved according to needs. Also, the materials needed would have been sent where they are required, not stored within a nation in case that they are needed there later.

It is further quite important to remember that nationalism is only about 150 years old. What was Italy 200 years ago – or Germany – a collection of city states. Since populistic nationalism also fails in the most important problems that mankind has recently faced, and only appears to create hate, discrimination, inequality and always blames everyone else without even trying to create constructive solutions, isn’t it time to cast that ugly parasite from our midst so that we can try to generate a world, where everyone has a place.

Another ugly parasite is profit-greedy globalism. It has nothing to do with thinking globally. Its purpose is only to minimize expenses and maximize profits, and to avoid paying taxes of the maximized profits. The expenses are minimized on the cost of people and environment. Partly the costs are minimized by transferring production to cheap-labour countries, partly by producing materials without virtually any prevention of pollution. This way it is possible to generate profits and pay virtually no tax. I do not think it is fair that taxpayer may have to pay more than 40 % of his income as tax, but a big, successful company 0.1 %. The coronavirus crisis has now shown that this way of production is not possible in crisis situations. The supply chains have become too long, and since no stores are maintained in order to cut production costs, a final product can be 95 % ready, but cannot be finalized, because the remaining components cannot be produced, e.g. as a result of epidemy-induced breakdowns in production. Further, to save costs, the production of primary components/raw material may in profit-greedy globalism occur in one or two places in the world. If these places encounter any difficulties in production, then the final product cannot be generated.

Both the populistic nationalism and profit-greedy globalism can be combatted, if one works as united world. The One Earth-movement should work to diminish inequality – the 25 richest people in the world would hardly notice, if their wealth were halved, and used to improve the living conditions of the poor. The environmental standards of production would be brought to European level, making the environment near African and Asian places of production much cleaner than today. Some of the production would be transferred back to European countries to shorten supply chains. Rich countries would reduce their energy and resource consumption which could be correspondingly increased in developing countries, which in return decrease their population growth. These changes can make the future sustainable to the world. However, it cannot be done with nationalistic decisions, but requires united world.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, immigration, environmental pollution, inequality