Population Control Isn’t the Answer to Climate Change. Capitalism Is.

Population Control Isn’t the Answer to Climate Change. Capitalism Is.


We are in the beginning of a mass extinction
and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,
how dare you! When Greta Thunberg drew national attention
for her comments at the UN in the Summer of 2019 some praised her performance as a stinging
rebuke to the rich and powerful for failing to put the survival of the planet
above their own needs. At just 16 years old our next guest is already
changing the world- She became the biggest voice on the biggest
issue facing the planet. Others saw the exploitation of a young woman
with emotional problems for propagandist ends. A mentally ill Swedish child who is being
exploited by her parents and by the international left. But there’s no question that Thunberg’s style
of environmentalism: strident, urgent, and critical of global capitalism,
has gained a strong foothold in contemporary politics. A 2019 paper from the journal Biosciences
cosigned by more than eleven thousand scientists asserted that planet earth’s population must
be stabilized and ideally gradually reduced and some politicians have questioned the morality
of having children at all. There’s scientific consensus that the lives
of children are gonna be very difficult and it does lead, I think, young people to
have a legitimate question, you know, should, is it ok to still have children? Educating everyone on the need to curb population
growth seems a reasonable campaign to enact would you be courageous enough to discuss
this issue and make it a key feature of a plan to address
climate catastrophe. Well the answer’s yes. Fears of overpopulation and ecological disaster
are also beginning to manifest on the far right, mixed in with an anti-immigrant animus. The logic was expressed in it’s most dramatic
and twisted form in the 2019 manifestos of mass shooters in both New Zealand and Texas. If we can get rid of enough people, he wrote,
then out way of life can become more sustainable. Whether contemporary proponents of these ideas
know it or not, they’re all intellectual errors of the misguided
18th century thinker Robert Thomas Malthus. Who believed that when human population increased,
famine and environmental destruction would ensue. Malthus argued that population would always
outstrip food supply because population would grow at exponential
rates whereas food supply could only grow at what
he called arithmetic rates. Reason science correspondent Ron Bailey is
the author of the 2015 book End of Doom. He didn’t recognize that in fact crops and
livestock are also populations. That they can also be exponentially increased
at the same time as a human population was. And that’s exactly what happened. Basically the Malthusian prescription turns
out to be completely wrong. In the contemporary world, Malthusianism was
most famously expressed through the work of ecologist Paul Ehrlich,
especially in his 1998 book The Population Bomb. The only hope that there is is that we will
be able, at least in the United States, through the political process to get a government that’s courageous enough to say ‘look we’reoverpopulated and we have to have population control and start moving in that direction.’ He predicted that through the 1970s and 80s
hundreds of millions would starve to death. He compared humanity to a cancer, writing
that “We must shift our efforts from treatment
of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer.” Ehrlich, who still holds an endowed professorship
at Stanford didn’t respond to our interview request. His proposed solutions included taxing diapers,
subsidizing vasectomies and even spiking food aid and water supplies
with sterilizing drugs and then holding a lottery for access to the
antidote. Similarly ecologist Garret Hardin in 1968
compared humanity to over-breeding cattle. Writing that ‘the freedom to breed is intolerable.’ The only way to make this system work is to
have the family be willing to give up one of its former freedoms namely the freedom to determine how many children
it was going to have. Ehrlich would turn out to be as wrongheaded
as Malthus. Over the next half-century, calories available
per capita steadily increased in just about every region of the world thanks to improved agricultural techniques
and technology. Humans are not only consumers, we’re also
producers. We’re able to create new things, to use resources
in better and better ways over time. Human creativity can overcome the problems
that Malthusians think that we’re going to be suffering from over-consumption. We’re using fewer and fewer resources to get
more and more value over time. And yet world hunger is yet to be eradicated with the UN reporting that about ten percent
of the global population is under-nourished and perhaps it’s true that past trends don’t
predict the future. That’s a lot of people, how are we going to
feed them all? Karen Pitts who is a member of the Sierra Club
and ran a northern California subcommittee on population growth is concerned that the world won’t be able
to accommodate a population that’s expected to peak at 11 billion by 2100. She became interested in the topic after a
trip to China in 1996. As you flew over the country, every space
was taken up by houses and housing. They are overpopulated. Whether or not they produce enough food is
a big question and we really can’t take the risk of being wrong. While it’s true that farmers will have to
become 70% more efficient over the next 30 years to feed the growing population, the technology already exists to accomplish
that goal. If all farmers were as efficient as US corn
growers, the world could feed ten billion people today
on half as much land. And as humanity continues moving into cities, the environment will probably be better protected
Bailey points out, because this allows for the restoration of
forests and other ecosystems on the land migrants leave behind. Something like 90% of people will be living
in cities by the end of the century. If that is the case then it’ll be less than
2 billion people living on the landscape. Which means that there’ll be far more scope
for forests to return, for biodiversity to flourish and we’ll be using a lot less resources over
that time. But today’s Malthusians are most concerned
about the disruptive effects of climate change, citing global warming, documentarian David Attenborough described humanity as a plague upon the earth. I can’t think of a single problem that wouldn’t
be easier to solve if there were less people. And the Biosciences paper signed by eleven
thousand scientists projects total societal collapse if population isn’t managed properly. There’s a catastophizing, apocalyptic undercurrent. Ted Nordhaus, who’s a founder of the Breakthrough
Institute, which advocates technological solutions to
environmental problems, believes the environmental movement has long
been hindered by its anti-growth paradigm. Conventional environmental ideology posits human development and environmental
protection oppositionally and I have exactly the opposite view. Nordhaus says that the most effective way
to deal with climate change is by promoting policies that accelerate economic
growth. If you’re really serious about accelerating
the decline of fertility rates and the peak and stabilization of global population, you need to accelerate economic development for certainly probably 3 or 4 billion people
over the next three or four decades. Most of today’s environmentalists don’t openly advocate for the draconian population control measures pushed by Ehrlich and other Malthusians in
the 1970s. Karen Pitts says that she just wants more
sex education and greater access to birth control in the developing world. Pointing to a project she participated in
with Tanzania’s local population. I have introduced contraception, we put tablets
over there that they could use plus being able to administer family planning. And the contraception rate went from about
25% to over 54% surprisingly easy. Those women wanted family planning. Funding greater access to birth control and
education for women in developing countries was also a recommendation of the Biosciences
paper and it’s a policy agenda of the UN and leading
NGOs like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Nordhaus says such measures can help with
the margins, but ultimately miss the big picture. Which is that as wealth increases, fertility
rates naturally fall as families invest more resources in fewer children. The real drivers of long term fertility decline
and population stabilization around the world are just kind of garden variety economic development which a lot of the same people signing those
documents are actually saying is the problem. The Biosciences paper argues that economic
growth is driving over-consumption of resources and says ‘our goals need to shift from GDP
growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems…’ Soon as we find new ways to do it our consumption
increases. That’s the problem. Pitts is right that people in wealthier societies
tend to consume resources and generate greenhouse gasses at rates that
are orders of magnitude higher than thoseW in the third world. But Nordhaus points out that when poor societies
become wealthy there are more people positioned to help solve
environmental problems in the only way that really works: with new
technology. Environmental discourse has been overly focused
on consumption. Technology is one of the key things that mediates
the relationship between affluence and consumption and impacts. Wealthier, more developed societies are both better positioned to adapt to problems
like climate change and climate impacts. A category 5 hurricane creates a lot more
devastation and a lot more loss of life and human impact
in a poorer society than in a rich society. They’re also better positioned to develop
and deploy new technology. Most of the success we’ve had in deploying
nuclear or other clean energy technologies is actually in a context where energy demand
is growing quickly. And so Nordhaus advocates for greater reliance
on clean, abundant energy like nuclear power to fuel advanced economies towards possibly
innovating even lower impact alternatives. But the third world may still need to rely
on traditional fossil fuels on its path to prosperity. Certainly over the next three or four decades
a lot of development, particularly in poor countries, is still going
to be fossil based. But it could be natural gas and not coal, or in Africa, for instance, just there’s huge
hydro capacity. In projections of sort of where populations
are going to stabilize is really when you get down to the bottom of it is just ultimately a question of how rapidly
Africa develops economically. Nordhaus says that climate change will likely
continue to present challenges for governments, individuals and societies
in the coming decades but that it’s better to conceive the problem
not as an asteroid hurtling towards earth, dooming us to extinction unless we thwart
it, but as global case of diabetes. Diabetes when it’s treated is manageable,
it depends on what we do. And it’s not just about cutting carbon emissions, it’s also development makes us more resilient
to climate extremes of all sorts. Malthus wasn’t completely wrong about the
tendency of humans to deplete resources, says Bailey, but he failed to see that new ways of organizing
society would ameliorate the problem. Up until a few centuries ago, Robert Thomas
Malthus was about right. Is that in fact population was regulated by
food supply. And something changed, the world understood
the role of property rights for example, the rule of law, and this dramatically changed
the incentive structures that people had. Activists like Naomi Klein who argued that
our economic system is at war with our climate system. She wants to replace it with some form of
communitarian socialism. I would suggest to you that doing that would
exactly bring back the Malthusian conditions that we used to live in. The thing that we need to do is proceed to
produce more wealth, more technology in order to ameliorate, overcome the problems
that climate change is going to cause. Her prescription is exactly the opposite of
what needs to be done. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction
and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,
how dare you! That’s the kind of claim that it doesn’t actually
enlighten at all. It doesn’t actually tell us anything about
the real choices we’re faced with. What sorts of social and political and economic
arrangements we ought to aspire to you know for a planet that is pretty soon
going to be nine or ten billion people. What it’s not is gonna be agrarian, traditional
economies. With ten billion people if you ever tried
to actually like actually have everybody live that way we would just cut down every forest in the world
and then we would collapse. This is not real, these are fantasies. She’s going to go back to Copenhagen and live
a very righteous life as an international environmental celebrity in a wealthy city surrounded by extraordinary
modern infrastructure most of which was built with fossil fuels. That’s Greta Thunberg’s future and I would like that future for everybody
else on the planet.

20 thoughts on “Population Control Isn’t the Answer to Climate Change. Capitalism Is.

  1. So… if there is enough food for everybody, then all is ok. The destruction of Earth's ecosystem is no problem. We can still manage. Even with a majority population of efficient retards who believe they are intelligent and follow the ways marked by previous generations. Inertia.

  2. All you need to do is focus on education. Educated people naturally have fewer kids and come with solutions.
    But instead ignorance is on the rise. Religious fundamentalism, anti-intellectuals & anti science.

    The current system of billionaires and the endless wars and regime change is not the solution. That model will lead to 1000 people having more money than the bottom 9,999,999,000 of the world. Those people don't care they just pretend to. The problems of the world don't affect them.

    But look how they carry on when you ask them to pay taxes and pay their employees a livable wage.
    These people who have more money than half the worlds countries start to carry on like spoiled brats. All because instead of $8 billion in personal wealth a year. They will only get $3.5 billion

  3. A study showed human population will never exceed 11 billion with the current development rate we are at. I wouldn’t say population is a threat to our existence.

  4. Innovation has always been a solution…

    John D. Rockefeller saved the whales!
    In 1898, 20,000 people per year died of inhaling horse manure dust in New York City alone… Henry Ford and Ransom Olds solved that problem!

  5. 1; why is every person worried about this really old? 2; why are the baby boomers blaming us when our gen. is a bunch of awkward anti social teens?

  6. I don't believe in leftist propaganda but I do wish there were less people in the world. Like a lot less. Ever been to Jersey or LA?:(

  7. Sure it is….lets start with executing those who volunteer to help solve this situation by saying they support Population Control….Duh! Then in the spirit of Capitalism we put their organs on the black market……wait skip that second part, apparently it's illegal, some idiot decided that if people could buy organs, it might cause a black market of organ sales…Duh!

  8. How Dare You ! Why some of us like Bill Gates want Mankind to end – up a greasy stain between the shales !

  9. Why are these people so concerned about the world? These 'Americans' should be concerned about the US first. If the US is consuming and wasting large amounts of food, how can they say there is a problem? Sure the US wastes a lot of food but it doesn't say the US is having any issues. The people in the US that aren't able to feed themselves are the POOR. The people in the countries that are starving are POOR? If those poor countries are able develop and produce like a 1st world country, yes they will be able to feed themselves as well. The lady worried about not providing contraceptives and birth control is a loon because those are third world countries. China has large masses of farm and cattle, they over fish the oceans. The people who are able to pay are not POOR. It just irks me these social warriors. Its all about funding for their programs.

  10. Anyone who thinks that we are not overpopulated now has to admit there will eventually be a limit. Then you have to think not just about what the eventual POSSIBLE limit would be, but what the IDEAL population for the planet would be.

  11. try not to pin point and overly of a particular aspect
    or risk narrowed down indignantly
    jurisprudence demands greater in problem solving adage
    if rule of law have been overriden what are the sense and sensibility?
    doesn't matter what pivots/ ideals etc
    …. doesn't matter at all…. forget it
    — rule of law
    — the constitution must stand no matter what
    — so as the 4th ind evo
    — and back into our senses of we intellectual
    — freedom and responsibility not robots/ any such programs
    — only then we homo duly survive
    — proper spread of wealth
    — variant intact
    what so difficult to understand?
    basic needs basic wants are most assuredly
    of any whom wanted more…. go ahead just take into conscience in regards fairplay —
    no one wanted to be outflanked
    integral:
    [industrial aspect entropy]
    turbulence flow reconstitute
    quantification nearest integer +/ –
    add —
    +growth….
    within controlled condition to avert unwarranted spectrum/ abrupt
    progress positive no matter — non truly isolated from value negative*
    *tactical "greed" et al
    -growth….
    to minimized of such conundrum
    —-

  12. Global warming and greenhouse gases actually increase plant life, hence greenhouse gases. Plants thrive on carbon dioxide, when more carbon is in the atmosphere there is an increase in greenery. There will also be an increase in oxygen because plants produce oxygen. Hunger will be no more and we will have plenty of food. When the temperature cools, we end up with less plant life and food.

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