With the 2016 ‘Earth Day’ around the corner, it is worth reminding ourselves of the Earth’s biggest problem: too many people:
Whatever the cause, it will be a lost one if we do not stabilise restricting then, in civilised ways, reduce human numbers. There are few problems that will not be easier to solve if there were fewer people. There are few solutions that will not be easier to implement if there were fewer people.
Of course in the equation of unsustainability, other factors count and in a few cases are more directly significant. They are 1) per capita consumption, ie material ‘affluence’ and 2) technology, ie the means we use to provide for that consumption, from farming and mining to manufacturing and transportation. But human numbers are unique in the Populaiton and Earth Day 2016 equation in that they automatically multiply the impact of the other two factors.
All three factors are mediated through various socio-economic structures and, more importantly, belief systems. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the taboo that now has descended over even simple discussion of population and appropriate policy responses.
Meanwhile an increasing number of governments are restricting access to family planning and sex education as well as encouraging what they call a ‘demographic dividend’ (eg http://www.newindianexpress.com/…/…/09/29/article2453940.ece). That includes baby bonuses and other inducements. Yet it is taboo to propose the opposite eg a ‘no claims bonus’ for those with no, one or two and no more babies.
It is indeed a case of those whom the gods would destroy they first drive mad. It will be revealing how many organisations use Earth Day to point to the planet’s biggest problem.