All eyes in the world should be on the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference as we wait with a stuttering heartbeat to learn about the policies that will guide humanity through the next great evolutionary bottleneck. The topic I will be keeping an eye on is overpopulation.
Overpopulation is the greatest ethical problem we face as a species as we begin to recognise our pivotal impact on the planet and start to actually do something about carbon emissions, pollution and poverty. If there weren’t so many of us, our levels of consumption would be reduced, our effluent would be minimised and our cultural habits would be manageable. But how do we go about ethically addressing the issue of population growth? I find it hard to condone China‘s one-child policy, but could the rest of the world be owing carbon credits to China in light of new research which shows that for every $7 spent of family planning we can reduce more than one tonne of CO2 emissions? One thing is clear, reducing the world’s population is a necessity but it is an issue that can only be approached through education not enforcement. A decade of lost opportunities to increase contraceptive prevalence was noted as recently as the 1980s (Diczfalusy, 1991). It is clear that now, more than ever, widespread distribution of family planning and contraceptive technology is crucial to our future on this planet.
To what degree is our concern about climate change altruistic? I do not believe that we are concerned about the health of our planet as much as we are concerned about our existence on it. At the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, are we discussing what changes need to be made or merely what changes we are prepared to make? And if so, how effective will such egocentric, ethnocentric and anthropomorphic changes be?
There are a few things I would like to know about the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. Did the attendees travel by plane or did they sail the northerly trade-winds to Denmark? Will the menu be meat free? Are they travelling by car from their hotels to the conference? Or will they choose public transport? I’m not sure if meat, cars and planes are things that many people are willing to go without! Slipping on a condom, however, might just be the barrier between our greed and our hypocrisy. During the UN conference, there will need to be unbiased decisions about what measures we need to go to, which cultural habits will be sustainable and what solutions we can implement in order to reduce our impact on the ecology of our world.