Population still huge problem as environment goes downhill

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    From the Guardian: interview by Paul Ehrlich, author of the Population Time Bomb, on new book he’s co-authored with his wife:

    Forty years on, the message from Ehrlich, now 76 and the Bing professor of population studies in the department of biological sciences at Stanford, has barely mellowed. He and his wife have just published a new book, The Dominant Animal, the central theme of which is how one species, Homo sapiens, has become so powerful that it can significantly undermine the Earth’s ability to support much of life.

    It is undeniably timely as we lurch from one grim realisation to another: a climate crisis, then an energy crisis, now a food crisis. And underlying them all is the issue of population. When Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, there were 3.5 billion people on Earth; there are now 6.7 billion. "The connections are so obvious it’s appalling that they’re not made," he says. "Each person we add now disproportionately impacts on the environment and life-support systems of the planet."

    There is cause for guarded optimism. He says: "If you look at it historically, the rise of environmental consciousness has been extremely rapid. We’re only 40 years into it. The trouble is, the environment has been going downhill far faster."

    Human consumption: Flying in the face of logic: Forty years after dropping his Population Bomb into the environment debate, Paul Ehrlich is still railing at man’s destructiveness



    From LA Times:

    In addition to boosting the health, standard of living and human rights of women, encouraging the use of contraception also will help save the planet, the journal argues. The calculus is simple: preventing unwanted pregnancies — especially in the developing world — translates into reduced demand for increasingly scarce and energy-intensive resources like food, water and shelter.

     More than 200 million women around the world would like access to modern contraception, and their lack of it leads to 76 million unintended pregnancies each year, according to Lancet.

    Thomas Wire, a postgraduate student at the London School of Economics, came to essentially the same conclusion last week. In a report titled “Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost,” Wire calculated that if present trends continue, the planet is on track to have 338 billion “people-years” lived between 2020 and 2050. But if contraception were available to every woman who wanted it, so many pregnancies would be averted that the number of people-years would fall to 326 billion.

    That reduction of 12 billion people-years would save 34 gigatons of carbon dioxide that would otherwise cost at least $220 billion to produce. In other words, each $7 invested in contraception would buy more than 1 ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

    Can condoms combat climate change?


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