It Is Not Racist to Worry about the Size of Human Population

Maanantai 7.12.2020 klo 15:52 - Mikko Nikinmaa

There are currently 7.8 billion people on Earth. Although recent data suggest that the population peaks 2064 at a little less than 10 billion and thereafter slowly decreases so that in 2100 the population is 8.8 billion. This is taken by some people to indicate that the warnings of overpopulation were too hasty. However, it is estimated that these population sizes far exceed what is sustainable: if the European style of living was aimed for by the whole Earth’s population, the planet could sustain 2 billion people, if rich countries would decrease their consumption allowing the poor countries to increase the standard of living considerably, the planet could have about 3 billion people and if the present economic inequality persisted, 4-5 billion people could exist without clear deterioration of the planet.

The world population has started to increase markedly only a couple of hundred years ago. In the beginning of 1900’s there were much less than 2 billion people. In 1960’s and 1970’s the possibility of overpopulation was brought forward by environmental scientists, but was not taken in serious consideration in economics and politics. In fact, it presently appears that if one says that a major environmental problem, also feeding climate change, is population growth, one is immediately labelled a racist. It is often considered that the problem is really overconsumption of resources by the rich, who are then the crooks and racists immediately if they say anything about the high birth rates in Africa and much of South America and Asia even though it is clear that even the present population size in those areas is not sustainable.

Washington et al. just wrote in Journal of Future Studies 25, 93-106:  Why Do Society and Academia Ignore the ‘Scientists Warning to Humanity’ On Population? They brought forward all the points that also I think are important. The overuse of the Earth has three components: overpopulation, overconsumption, and the concept of unlimited growth. All three need to be considered together. There is also the point that the rich countries naturally cannot demand that poor people of the South are not allowed to improve their standard of living. This necessarily causes increased resource use per person.

A major question affecting the population growth is the standing of women. It has been shown that if women’s standing increases, population growth decreases. Washington et al give the following points as ways to combat population growth:

1. Assure universal access to a range of safe and effective contraceptive options and family planning services for both sexes.

2. Guarantee education through secondary school for all, with a particular focus on girls.

3. Eradicate gender bias from law, economic opportunity, health, and culture.

4. Offer age-appropriate sexuality education for all students.

5. End all policies that reward parents financially if they are based on the number of their children.

6. Integrate teaching about population, environment, and development relationships into school curricula at multiple levels.

7. Put prices on environmental costs and impacts.

8. Adjust to population aging rather than trying to delay it through governmental incentives or programs aimed at boosting childbearing.

9. Convince leaders to commit to ending population growth through the exercise of human rights and human development.

I agree with all of these, and if they are thought to be racist, then striving for improving education and for gender equality is racist.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, overconsumption, resource use, growth economy