It has always astonished me that people fail to realize the connection between the lack of family planning and the destruction humans are doing to the planet. In fact, as I have said in a previous blog, the exploding human population is almost certainly responsible for many (most?) of the problems we confront as we attempt to survive on this planet. And yet, we continue to ignore the problem because in the minds of many “family planning” equates to “abortion.” This is absurd.
Consider the effect expanding human populations have on the environment, as reported in a recent issue of the Sierra Club magazine. The number of humans increases by about 220,000 per day. We hit the 7 billion mark last October, as noted in an earlier blog. Humans emit 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. At the present rate of human expansion, that output of carbon dioxide will double by 2062, pushing our planet beyond the 560 parts-per-million threshold — which is when the Greenland ice sheet will cave in.
There are, of course things we can do to control human population which do not involve the dreaded “A” word that makes discussion of the problem well-nigh impossible. We can support world-wide efforts to get contraceptives into the hands of women who want them but are unable to get them as things now stand — estimated to be about 215 million women world-wide. We can support efforts to increase literacy around the world so more people understand what expanding human populations mean to the survival of the planet. Literate women tend to have smaller families and drastically decreased infant-mortality rates. Literate women also have increased access to economic opportunities and are less likely to bear children before they can afford to support them. We can support sex information programs (misnamed “sex education” in this country), which will help reduce teen pregnancy, among other benefits. We can help support gender equity efforts which would increase women’s decision-making power which is essential to slowing human population growth.
There are also steps we can take that have nothing whatever to do with family planning but will also help reduce our “carbon footprint” on this planet. These things are fairly obvious, but largely ignored in our pursuit of fun and profit. We can replace oil and gas with renewables; cut our power usage by turning down the thermostat in the Winter and up in the Summer; run our cars on hydrogen — or at least buy the most fuel-efficient cars available that we can afford; we can displace coal with solar and wind energy, so-called “clean energy”; farmers can practice conservation tillage, which has already expanded to 35% of the farms in this country; and we can stop deforestation which removes trees from the earth which are essential in providing the world with oxygen.
Needless to say, these steps require some sort of sacrifice on our part and humans have not shown much of a desire in recent history to deny themselves anything. But the alternative is clear: if we continue on our present course, we will destroy the earth on which our lives depend.