Monday, 9 October 2017

David Roberts on why he avoids talking about overpopulation

In the last week of ECON100 lectures, we talked about economic sustainability and, among other things, the economics of climate change. So, this recent article by David Roberts caught my attention. In the article, Roberts (an environmental journalist) explains why he avoids talking about population:
Anyone who’s ever given a talk on an environmental subject knows that the population question is a near-inevitability (second only to the nuclear question). I used to get asked about it constantly when I wrote for Grist — less now, but still fairly regularly.
I thought I would explain, once and for all, why I hardly ever talk about population, and why I’m unlikely to in the future...
It is high risk — very, very easy to step on moral landmines in that territory — with little reward.
And where talk of population control is rarely popular (for good reason), female empowerment and greater equality are a) goals shared by powerful preexisting coalitions, b) replete with ancillary benefits beyond the environmental, and c) unquestionably righteous.
So why focus on the former when the latter gets you all the same advantages with none of the blowback? That’s how I figure it anyway.
I've blogged before about my research on climate change and population, but from the alternative angle - how climate change affects the population distribution, and not how population affects climate change. Roberts operates in a more fraught space, and appears to negotiate it in an intelligent way. I encourage you to read his article, and follow up especially on the Drawdown Project (which Roberts has written about here), which "maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming". You can jump straight to the rankings here. Spoiler: You may be surprised at which solutions rank #6 and #7, but potentially more surprised by the solutions that rank in the bottom five.

[HT: Marginal Revolution]

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