Why depopulation won't solve climate change
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In a world increasingly focused on saving the planet, urging people not to have children simply can't be the answer. In an interview with the Radio Times, David Attenborough stated that "[humans] are the plague of the earth" because "[they] are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources", and that, "the only way to save planet from famine and species extinction is to limit population growth.’ Though, to what extent would depopulation actually help the environment? Attenborough, a patron for Population Matters, a charity that advocates for population control to preserve the environment and reduce climate change, is convinced that the answer to our earth’s climate crisis is limiting human reproduction. The idea is undoubtedly dystopian: consider a future where the government has passed a law that reproduction is illegal on the grounds that population growth is unsustainable. Yes, the idea is, technically, environmentally considerate. However, it is not humankind considerate; it’s a violation of key human right – the right to reproduce. It’s also slightly hypocritical of Attenborough to advocate such an approach when firstly, he has children of his own, and secondly, he’s a meat eater; animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to the earth’s climate crisis. Despite his God-like authority on environmental issues, his voice clearly shouldn’t be trusted. How can you expect others to make a change when you can’t make a change yourself? The advocacy for depopulation as a solution to the earth’s climate crisis has its origins in a 1999 Cornell University study that suggested we are more than two times over the earth’s population carrying capacity when certain criteria are considered, such as all humans living in prosperity and having access to clean water. As a solution to exceeding the target a different study, this time in Sweden, found that if every family had one less child the world would save 58.6 tonnes of carbon. As insightful this solution is, it is ultimately idealistic.
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