Thursday, January 29, 2009

Population Control

Gregory Lamb's article on world population asks some very important questions.

Do we need a concerted effort to control the world's population? Should this be a government goal? Related to that, do we need to cut consumption of the world's resources?

I feel the answer to these questions is a definitive yes. While I'm not usually comfortable with the government in the bedroom, the planet simply has too many people. 9 billion by 2050 is just too many. Access to birth control helps. But it's not enough.

I believe it is simply an immoral choice to have more than 2 children. As Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 environmental classic The Population Bomb says, “You’ve got to get a president who’s got the guts to say, ‘Patriotic Americans stop at two. That if you care about your children and grandchildren, we should have a smaller population in the future, not larger.”

Yes. I am willing to go as far as saying that it is unpatrotic to have a lot of children. You are hurting the future of our society by doing so.

This is one reason why we need to support abortion rights. Too often, pro-choice people apologize for their position, saying that it is regrettable that we have to abortion and we should reduce the number, but... I don't actually agree with this. I don't see that abortion should be considered a bad thing at all. Certainly, birth control is a better thing but people should not be ashamed of having an abortion. And society should make it safe, cheap, and accessible.

Note that this previous paragraph has just killed any political career I might have wanted to have someday.

The economists will be in an uproar too. Because our capitalist economy is designed for constant growth rather than sustainability, business interests and economic planners will freak out, like they are doing right for Japan. But while a smaller population would be an economic adjustment, wouldn't it also be better for the world and humanity in the long run.

I actually admire China's one child policy. Certainly I don't quite approve of some of the harshest enforcement tactics they use, but I do think our government could give tax credits or some kind of benefits to families with 0-2 children. Or even punish with higher taxes families with too many children, though you'd want to ensure that the children didn't suffer as a result.

Of course, related to this issue is consumption. Since Americans consume like there is no tomorrow and the rest of the world wants to live like Americans, we have a real problem on our hand. There's no way around it--9 billion people can't live on the planet and consume like early 21st century Americans. It's a Malthusian crisis.

Given the pie in the sky ideas I have about this, you can imagine my pessimism that any of this will actually happen. Nonetheless, it's an issue that we need to talk about much more seriously than we do now.