Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Role of Overpopulation in Global Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day, with a focus on Global Climate Change. There is so much to write about regarding Global Climate Change, which is already resulting in massive destruction to the ecosystems upon which we depend for food, water and other necessities. This time, however, I want to focus on the role of human overpopulation as a key factor in the human contribution to this global crisis.

A few days ago, I attended a panel discussion on Global Climate Change at the Society of Environmental Journalists ( conference in Madison, Wisconsin. I also attended a talk by Al Gore on the same topic, updating us about the fact that Global Climate Change is here, and having devastating impacts already. The panel on overpopulation included Prof. Paul Ehrlich, who has been writing about population for decades. It is unfortunate that so little attention is being paid to population issues in the media, apparently because it is such a sensitive topic - and virtually taboo because of the dogmas of particular religions.

Yet, human overpopulation is one of the key causes of the stresses we are placing upon our planetary resources that are leading to global climate change. We will not likely be able to control our destructive consumption and cycles of famine and war until overpopulation eases its constant pressure on planetary resources. To encourage population increases in this era is obviously irrational and in abrogation of the common sense any divine being would have conferred upon our species.

However, through lack of support for family planning and individual control over family size, many organizations around the world are actively sabotaging human efforts to live in balance with our natural world. Through direct social incentives and mandates to produce more children, these organizations promote cultural values found in ancient texts as if we are living thousands of years ago, when, indeed, the planet could easily absorb millions of additional humans. As a result, our species and our planet are further endangered and sound efforts to address global climate change and other global ecological crises such as mass extinctions are thwarted.

It does not matter why people and organizations choose to sabotage efforts to allow the human race to live in peace and prosperity on this planet. Some religious leaders look at today's situation and adapt to the world we live in today, honoring the wisdom of our ancient texts and choosing not to repeat the tragedies of which they repeatedly warn. Yet, others hold onto and re-create the ancient biblical conflicts and disasters, seemingly doomed to repeat the past rather than create a better future. I, for one, fail to see the morality in dooming our species to untold suffering. For the sake of our species, these actions and the attitudes that support them must change.