Friday, November 20, 2009

Population Control: A Cure for Global Warming?

I believe overpopulation is a big factor which contributes to global warming. More humans means more food which means more fossil fuels burned. The article Fight Global Warming: Wear a Condom by Maria Cheng highlights the importance of birth control nowadays. The UN's Population Fund executive director is quoted saying, "We have now reached a point where humanity is approaching the brink of disaster." They believe that "the battle against global warming could be helped if the world slowed population growth by making free condoms and family planning advice more widely available." Though this seems like a great idea to curb overpopulation, other sources show this may not be enough.
Our course text The Cartoon Guide to the Environment examines the dangers of overpopulation. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich wrote a book titled The Population Bomb. "Ehrlich saw an exploding population and concluded that mass starvation was just around the corner." (Gonick & Outwater, p.207)
As we all know, history repeats itself. As seen on page 118 of The Cartoon Guide to the Environment, "Human history has seen the population growth curve drop several times." So what's stopping it from dropping again? The answer is: nothing. It seems to be a natural re-occurrence which leads me to believe birth control cannot stop it from happening, although if utilized globally, could slow the pace.
Another quote from the article Fight Global Warming: Wear a Condom states, "Using the need to reduce climate change as a justification for curbing the fertility of individual women at best provokes controversy and at worst provides a mandate to suppress individual freedoms." Our second course text The Party's Over quotes Russell Hopfenberg and David Pimentel saying, "some people believe that for humans to limit their numbers would infringe on their freedom to reproduce. This may be true, but a continued increase in human numbers will infringe on our freedoms from malnutrition, hunger, disease, poverty, and pollution, and on our freedom to enjoy nature and a quality environment." (Heinberg, p.246) While it seems like a good idea to curb human reproduction, most people have the mindset of saving themselves individually over our species as a whole. Thinking this way may even lead to increased reproduction which is why we must get the word out about birth control and make it more available.
We must think of our carrying capacity as a balloon and each human being as an air particle. If we keep filling the balloon, it will most definitely pop at some point. Birth control may help limit the number of new particles, but unless we can find a means to enlarge the balloon or find a whole new one, our carrying capacity is sure to explode - or something big may suck the air right out and we'll have to start all over.

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