February 3, 2009
Uncontrolled population growth threatens to undermine efforts to save the planet, warns John Feeney. In this week’s Green Room, he calls on the environmental movement to stop running scared of this controversial topic.
It’s the great taboo of environmentalism: the size and growth of the human population.
It has a profound impact on all life on Earth, yet for decades it has been conspicuously absent from public debate.
Most natural scientists agree our growing numbers and our unchecked impact on the natural environment move us inexorably toward global calamities of unthinkable severity.
They agree the need to address population has become desperate.
Yet many environmentalists avoid the subject, a few objecting strongly to any focus on our numbers.
Some activists insist acting to influence population growth infringes on human rights; they maintain that it is best to leave the problem alone.
Let’s dispense with this confused notion right now.
Yes, there have been past abuses in the name of “population control”.
There have been abuses of health care and education too, but the idea of reacting by abandoning any of these causes is absurd.