FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
While world leaders talk about combating climate change in Copenhagen - some say population control is the only way to really fight it.
Newborns lie on a hospital bed in Beijing.
The Chinese instituted a policy limiting the number of children each family can have 30-years ago. And they claim that since then, it has prevented 400-million births - and saved carbon emissions to the tune of 18-million tons a year.
And it's not just the Chinese. There's a piece in the Canadian newspaper The Financial Post which suggests: "The real inconvenient truth" is that humans are overpopulating the world.
It suggests that every nation should adopt China's one-child policy; because if we don't control the earth's population, we will eventually destroy or run out of everything - from other species to vegetation, resources, the atmosphere, oceans and water supply - and that's whether the globe overheats or not.
This piece points out that despite China's dirty coal plants - it is a world leader in creating policy to combat the destruction of the environment.
One study shows that if from now on, every woman gave birth to only one child - the world's population would drop from 6.5 billion now... to 5.5 billion in 2050. If we do nothing - the population could soar to an unsustainable nine-billion in that same time.
Needless to say there are lots of people who disagree with population control - like fundamentalist leaders who oppose birth control or politicians from emerging economies.
Here’s my question to you: Should mandatory population control be a part of the fight against global warming?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
A. from Oregon writes:
Pretty extreme, Jack. However in the near future that is certainly a consideration that many nations must make… When food, water and critical medical services are in short supply, fewer people makes a lot of sense! Consider, Jack, the enormous drain a family of 8 has on society and the community, and yet the state and federal government rewards huge families with enormous benefits and tax breaks.
Wow, Jack. Thanks very much. Finally someone in the media has the guts to state the obvious. Everything you said is true, but you were too gentle: it needs shouting out. The fundamentalists and others opposed to population control have had their way for too long.
Sean from Belvidere, Illinois writes:
Morally, there are better ways of fighting global warming than infanticide. But sadly, this method makes more sense than carbon credits.
Absolutely. Every year, we have deer hunting season, with the argument that if we don’t control the deer population they will over-breed and starve to death. Why can these ‘John and Kate’ and ‘Octomom’ people not see that the same biological mathematics applies to humans as well? On a planet of finite resources, you can’t just keep producing an ever-growing pool of consumers and still expect the whole thing to work.
Paul from Toronto writes:
Jack, Humans, like the H1N1, are a virus and if we don't get ourselves under control, Mother Earth will eventually create her own vaccine and destroy us all to protect herself.
Sebastian from Ann Arbor, Michigan writes:
Well finally, it's about time we started talking about this. As an only child, son of an only child and the parent of none, I say if you want more than one kid then pay for it – a tax seems reasonable. Those who adopt would be exempt.
This is the most ignorant question I've ever seen.
The highest birth rates — from five to more than six births per woman — are occurring in a handful of nations in Africa and Asia, including Nigeria and Yemen. Yet among large economies, the United States is second only to Australia in the amount of carbon dioxide it emits per capita, according to the latest figures from the federal Energy Information Administration.
“Every person you add to the country makes all these tremendous demands on the environment,” said Joel E. Cohen, chief of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University and Columbia University.
But experts are reluctant to suggest an ideal birth rate. “There isn’t any magic number,” Dr. Cohen said.
As recently as the 1970s, the subject of population control was less controversial, partly because the baby boom years had given rise to concerns about scarcity of resources, some population experts and environmentalists said. Then came China’s coercive one-child policy and a rise in social conservatism in the United States, combined with the country’s aversion to anything perceived as restricting individual freedoms, be it the right to bear arms or children.
Some groups also fear whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment and opposition to family planning. Immigration now accounts for about one-third of the growth rate in the United States.
“We see reluctance and fear to deal with this issue,” said Jose Miguel Guzman of the United Nations Population Fund.
Groups contacted for this article generally declined to discuss the issue or did not return calls.
The Center for Biological Diversity’s condom campaign, begun on college campuses last year, now includes video ads in Times Square and lobbying in Washington for more family planning services. It is an aggressive strategy even for the center, which is best known for barraging federal agencies with lawsuits intended to protect species and ecosystems.
The condom campaign is intended to raise awareness and help reduce unintended pregnancies. “Reproduction is always going to be a matter of free will,” said Randy Serraglio, the manager of the campaign. “This is about getting people to make the connection.”
A study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed how slowing the country’s population growth rate to 1.5 births per woman from 2.0 could result in a 10 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury and a 33 percent drop by the end of the century.
But the notion that curbing births is an effective way to control emissions is not an easy sell.
When Oregon State University released a study two years ago calculating the extra carbon dioxide emissions a person helps generate by choosing to have children, the researchers received hate mail labeling them “eugenicists” and “Nazis.”
The study, which also calculated the impact of a birth beyond the child’s lifetime “should the offspring reproduce,” said that each American child generated seven times as much carbon dioxide over time as one child in China, and 169 times as much as one in Bangladesh. Reducing car travel, recycling and making homes more energy efficient would have a fraction of the impact on emissions that reducing the birth rate would, it found.
“There are important consequences to having children, and we tried to quantify them,” said Paul A. Murtaugh, an associate professor of statistics and one of the study’s co-authors. “It should be on the table. It needs to be.”
Some groups, like the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International, said they worked on population-related issues mostly internationally. The president of the National Audubon Society declined an interview without explanation. The chairwoman of the Green Group, a loose association of several dozen environmental organizations, did not return calls or e-mails.
The Natural Resources Defense Council president, Frances Beinecke, said her group focused on addressing climate change through energy strategies and conservation efforts. “Particularly in this economic environment, we’re not in a position to just add, add, add,” Ms. Beinecke said of her group’s agenda.
Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the research on reducing emissions by cutting birth rates was not yet “robust” enough to make a convincing case for a clear way forward.
A country’s carbon footprint does not necessarily shrink when the birth rate drops, Mr. Knobloch said. In India and China, he pointed out, smaller families have consumed more as their incomes rose — a common trend in developing countries. “It gets complex very quickly,” he said.
Carl Pope, the chairman of the Sierra Club, said his organization now had one population officer on staff who was working on international reproductive health services. In this country, Mr. Pope said, there are reasons for keeping a low profile on the issue.
“Look at Planned Parenthood,” he said, recalling the group’s bruising battle with Republican lawmakers over federal financing last spring. “There’s a huge atmosphere of intimidation. The moment you say ‘family planning,’ immediately somebody pulls out abortion.”
The 2.0 fertility rate in the United States is higher than the rates in other developed countries, including Germany and Japan (1.3), Canada (1.6) and Britain (1.8), according to figures from the United Nations.
John Seager, president of the group Population Connection, said organizations had been more assertive about lobbying the Obama administration for money to finance family planning services overseas.
Unintended pregnancies account for roughly half of all annual births in the United States, according to studies by the Guttmacher Institute, which is based in New York and promotes reproductive health worldwide.
By tackling such pregnancies, the fertility rate could be brought down to about 1.9 births per woman, slightly below replacement level yet high enough to ease concerns about economic stagnation and support for the elderly, said John Bongaarts, a demographer with the Population Council, a research group in New York.
Dr. Bongaarts described the inaction by environmental groups as a missed opportunity. “The global warming community is staying away from anything having to do with population,” he said, “and that’s frustrating.”Continue reading the main story