Population and Global Warming
January 25, 2007
by William P. Meyers

George W. Bush mentioned global warming in his State of the Union message. I guess that means the oil companies are invested heavily enough in "green" technologies now to profit from the trend.

I don't think that technology will fix global warming or other kinds of ecological disaster unless we do something about the population. We have to do more than just slow the growth of the global population. It has to be gradually reduced to about 1 billion persons.

Scientific American did a full issue (September, 2006) on technologies that could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. That is all well and good. I think conservation should be the main approach, followed by renewables. But even that approach won't do much good if the human population hits 8 billion, then 10 billion, and just keeps climbing. People want and need a certain degree of comfort. Just raising enough food to keep people from starving requires more energy and more greenhouse gas emissions.

I wrote about my proposal to use federal income taxes to make it less attractive to have large families. The United States and other countries with advanced economies should be able to use this kind of incentive system to reduce their populations. With careful planning this can be done without economic disruption. People can be made to feel that they are getting wealthier even though they are using less energy. Real estate prices can be supported by moving economically deprived people into larger homes as the population flattens and then starts to decrease.

We need to change our global and national culture. We need a culture that is based on our modern knowledge of nature and of human nature. Too much of US and global culture is based on ideas that correspond to a world that no longer exists. "Go forth and multiply!" Could we please check that as Done on our global To Do list? The earth is indeed filled. The thinking of the Catholic Church in the Dark Ages is not appropriate to our times. In the Dark ages the population of Europe actually collapsed from its Roman-era peak. Trying to have large families usually did not lead to an immediate population explosion because of disease, war, and famine.

China is the only country that has done a fair job at purposefully keeping its total population from growing too quickly. Whatever else you might say about the Chinese Communists, they are atheists in good standing who can analyze a problem and solve it. Other countries with essentially stabile populations have reached that position in a haphazard manner. In Italy women may be nominally Catholic, but most don't want to be burdened with large families. in Russia the brutal introduction of a particularly brutal form of capitalism led to the rapid die off of much of the population. The availability of birth control, again the product of a basically rational, atheistic society, allowed women to keep family sizes to their liking, which is to say, small.

Of course in Iraq the population has declined due to the genocidal U.S. foreign policy there.

But much of the world still has booming populations.

At some point families have to realize that having too many children make a family poor and weak, not strong. At some point politicians have to realize the same thing. A small, prosperous population is better for national defense than a large but poor population. Warm bodies don't mean much in war or economies any more.

So the most socially responsible investment you can make is one that will result in more condom factories being built.

And lets raise the legal age for getting pregnant to 21. If you can't vote, you can't get pregnant. That is a simple and fair idea.

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