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Earth summit: A Call For Action On Population Control

Rio+20 Earth summit: scientists call for action on population

Joint report by 105 institutions urges negotiators to drop political inhibitions and confront rising global population and consumption

The Rio+20 Earth summit must take decisive action on population and consumption regardless of political taboos or it will struggle to tackle the alarming decline of the global environment, the world's leading scientific academies warned on Thursday.

Rich countries need to reduce or radically transform unsustainable lifestyles, while greater efforts should be made to provide contraception to those who want it in the developing world, the coalition of 105 institutions, including the Royal Society, urged in a joint report.

It's a wake-up call for negotiators meeting in Rio for the UN conference on sustainable development.

The authors point out that while the Rio summit aims to reduce poverty and reverse the degradation of the environment, it barely mentions the two solutions that could ease pressure on increasingly scarce resources.

Many in the scientific community believe it is time to confront these elephants in the room. "For too long population and consumption have been left off the table due to political and ethical sensitivities. These are issues that affect developed and developing nations alike, and we must take responsibility for them together," said Charles Godfray, a fellow of the Royal Society and chair of the working group of IAP, the global network of science academies.

In a joint statement, the scientists said they wanted to remind policymakers at Rio+20 that population and consumption determine the rates at which natural resources are exploited and Earth's ability to meet the demand for food, water, energy and other needs now and in the future. The current patterns of consumption in some parts of the world were unsustainable. A sharp rise in human numbers can have negative social and economic implications, and a combination of the two causes extensive loss of biodiversity.

The statement follows a hard-hitting report by the Royal Society in April that called for rebalancing of resources to reduce poverty and ease environmental pressures that are leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future.

By 2050, the world's population is projected to rise from seven billion to between eight and 11 billion. Meanwhile consumption of resources is rising rapidly as a result of a growing middle class in developed countries and the lavish lifestyles of the very rich across the planet.

"We are living beyond the planet's means. That's scientifically proven," said Gisbet Glaser of the International Council for Science, who cited research on ocean acidification, climate change and biodiversity loss. "We're now at a point in human history where we risk degrading the life support system for human development."

The scientific academies stressed that poverty reduction remain a priority, but said action to promote voluntary family planning through education, better healthcare and contraception can aid that process.

"The P-word is not talked about because people are scared of being politically incorrect or alarmist. Even so, the the population dialogue should not just be about sheer numbers of people – that type of dialogue leads to finger pointing," said Lori Hunter, a demographer who was in Rio for a side-event. She said the picture was more complex and touched upon the need to consider factors that shape fertility decision-making. She mentioned that in some areas, scarcity of natural resources leads to larger families as families need labor. There are also high levels of unmet demand for contraception in many regions of the world.

"You need to push the levers that are shaping family size," said Hunter. "Basically, you can't save the environment without reproductive health policies and programmes." She also mentioned that processes such as migration, urbanisation, aging are important in considering the environmental impacts of future consumption.

The draft negotiating text of Rio+20 mentions the need to change "unsustainable patterns of production and consumption" but the US wants to delete passages that suggest developed countries should take the lead.

There is also little recognition in the text that economic growth might be limited by ecological factors. This is partly because although scientists talk about "global boundaries", there is no agreement on where they might lie.

The stock taking of global inventory is still a work in progress, but it may speed up after the launch on Thursday of a new scientific initiative – Future Earth – that brings together academies, funds and international institutions to co-design research related to sustainable food production and changes to the climate, geosphere and biosphere.

The picture might become clearer if proposals at Rio+20 to beef up the UN environment programme are accepted, along with a plan for a "regular review of the state of the planet."

Glaser, who is the lead negotiator for the scientific community at Rio+20, said there was still no agreement on the 80-page text.

"They're negotiating words rather than the issues behind the words. I'm afraid that if there's no miracle, there'll be a relatively low common denominator that just drops all the main areas of contention."

by on Jun. 14, 2012 at 4:43 PM
Replies (41-50):
Meadowchik
by Gold Member on Jun. 15, 2012 at 5:18 AM
1 mom liked this

Maybe this is where some on the left and right could form an alliance:

Typically a conservative or libertarian would argue that the law of supply and demand would naturally limit consumption levels, ensuring that population and consumption levels will balance out through people reducing consumption and limiting family size because of increasing prices. 

Typically someone on the left might say that the natural process won't accomplish a balance, or atleast not a humane balance, because people will not only glut their own resources, but will move on to glut the resources of other, more vulnerable people, who will be left to scartch around in the infertile, dry sand and poke around in the landfills that fill up their used fields. 

The latter IS happening in some parts of the world:  Indian villages losing their traditional water sources, Chinese rural villages losing their fields to illegal landfills because the nearest cities are only legally accomodating 70% percent of their waste.  We, as Americans, don't have to look that far to see it though:  rural cities in America are losing their water supplies to farmers and cities selling water rights to bigger farmers, thereby cutting off the local food production water availability.

On the other hand, the former is also happening.  People are voluntarily cutting back consumption.  An important example would be a large modern, middle-class family using less resources then some modern, middle-class families with two, one or no children. This happens as well.

IMO, we do not need to centralize power and authority to control population and consumption...in an earlier post I said that our most important resource is "humaneness," and that's exactly what is and will be the biggest single factor in population and resource balance.  By humaneness, I am thinking from two different directions: first, don't stifle human dignity, procreation, or property rights by force; second, don't usurp local communities authority over their own destinies. 

The central government has failed in some ways, and that cannot be fixed by making the central government bigger, but by it doing its original job: defending local government rights to govern themselves. When people have the right and ability to remain proprieters of their land and resources, they get to fix the price according to their perceived value, higher prices then get passed on and then becomes more prohibitive to the over-consumers who use more than they have in their own communities.  Then, the balancing act of supply and demand is allowed to do its job. 

 

Quoting GaleJ: losing their

Everyone who needs to breath or eat or drink needs to start paying attention...MOTHER EARTH AND HER PRECIOUS RESOURCES ARE FINITE...and there is no room for debate on that! I don't care if you are left or right, pro-choice or not, straight or gay, evangelical or humanist, all must come to grips with this. We are rapidly approaching the point where we will have done irreparable harm to the environment that sustains all life on this very small planet. We must immediately begin to limit population growth, in every country, and must reduce consumption. The choices we all make now will echo down the generations and if we continue as we are going our lives and those of our children and grandchildren will be dramatically reduced. There will be soaring prices for ever-diminishing commodities, clean potable water will be scarce and may well be something for which countries will go to war, and the ever growing numbers of people will not be able to feed themselves. If you want to picture this think of Haiti, a country stripped of everything and no longer able to sustain it's population. We cannot ignore "the elephant" in the room any longer and all of us must commit wholeheartedly to the two-pronged approach of population control and reduction of consumption and understand that if you aren't part of the solution you are indeed part of the problem!

 

The most pressing social issue today is the economy

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Kate_Momof3
by Platinum Member on Jun. 15, 2012 at 6:43 AM

THIS!!!!!

I posted earlier that we live far more modestly (by choice) with three children than I ever did as a single mom with one kid. I no longer drive and consume gas like I did. I don't purchase new clothing. I belong to Freecycle and try to pass on what I can rather than take it to the dump. 

There are many ways to reduce our impact. If you choose to have a large family, it's only fair to try.

Quoting Meadowchik:

 

In other words, the relationship between consumption and family size is not as proportional as some might assume, so reducing population won't necessarily reduce median household consumption levels.


Meadowchik
by Gold Member on Jun. 15, 2012 at 7:12 AM

Yup, and then families like that are therefore more likely to pass on more conserving habits to their children. 

Quoting Kate_Momof3:

THIS!!!!!

I posted earlier that we live far more modestly (by choice) with three children than I ever did as a single mom with one kid. I no longer drive and consume gas like I did. I don't purchase new clothing. I belong to Freecycle and try to pass on what I can rather than take it to the dump. 

There are many ways to reduce our impact. If you choose to have a large family, it's only fair to try.

Quoting Meadowchik:

 

In other words, the relationship between consumption and family size is not as proportional as some might assume, so reducing population won't necessarily reduce median household consumption levels.


 

The most pressing social issue today is the economy

Visit Mitt Romney for President, CafeMom Group

Kate_Momof3
by Platinum Member on Jun. 15, 2012 at 8:03 AM
2 moms liked this

I know I tend to blather about my oldest daughter a bit much on this board, but I have to say, she LOVES Goodwill. It's great. Instead of shlepping to the mall, we just go to Goodwill. One stop shopping.

Quot

Yup, and then families like that are therefore more likely to pass on more conserving habits to their children. 

Quoting Kate_Momof3:

THIS!!!!!

I posted earlier that we live far more modestly (by choice) with three children than I ever did as a single mom with one kid. I no longer drive and consume gas like I did. I don't purchase new clothing. I belong to Freecycle and try to pass on what I can rather than take it to the dump. 

There are many ways to reduce our impact. If you choose to have a large family, it's only fair to try.

Quoting Meadowchik:

 

In other words, the relationship between consumption and family size is not as proportional as some might assume, so reducing population won't necessarily reduce median household consumption levels.


 


Meadowchik
by Gold Member on Jun. 15, 2012 at 8:13 AM

Go Kate's daughter! 

I bought my favorite jeans of all time at Goodwill when I was a teen!

I really miss it...I need to hunt down the used furniture stores in our region.  Hopefully I can find some good armoires and dressers for my kids' rooms--we're in the process of making the bottom floor of our old farmhouse habitable, so we will have more bedrooms in a month or so.  I really don't want to have to buy new, I want to find some good strong pieces to resurrect.

Quoting Kate_Momof3:

I know I tend to blather about my oldest daughter a bit much on this board, but I have to say, she LOVES Goodwill. It's great. Instead of shlepping to the mall, we just go to Goodwill. One stop shopping.

Quot

Yup, and then families like that are therefore more likely to pass on more conserving habits to their children. 

Quoting Kate_Momof3:

THIS!!!!!

I posted earlier that we live far more modestly (by choice) with three children than I ever did as a single mom with one kid. I no longer drive and consume gas like I did. I don't purchase new clothing. I belong to Freecycle and try to pass on what I can rather than take it to the dump. 

There are many ways to reduce our impact. If you choose to have a large family, it's only fair to try.

Quoting Meadowchik:

 

In other words, the relationship between consumption and family size is not as proportional as some might assume, so reducing population won't necessarily reduce median household consumption levels.


 


 

The most pressing social issue today is the economy

Visit Mitt Romney for President, CafeMom Group

asfriend
by on Jun. 15, 2012 at 8:19 AM


Quoting imagirlgeek:

Any meeting where the discussion topic is "Population Control" can't be good.

So...right now they are discussing ways to decrease the birth rate...I wonder when the discussions will move to increasing the death rate.


That is covered in the "end of life discussions" in the Affordable Care Act.

asfriend
by on Jun. 15, 2012 at 8:24 AM


Quoting GaleJ:

Everyone who needs to breath or eat or drink needs to start paying attention...MOTHER EARTH AND HER PRECIOUS RESOURCES ARE FINITE...and there is no room for debate on that! I don't care if you are left or right, pro-choice or not, straight or gay, evangelical or humanist, all must come to grips with this. We are rapidly approaching the point where we will have done irreparable harm to the environment that sustains all life on this very small planet. We must immediately begin to limit population growth, in every country, and must reduce consumption. The choices we all make now will echo down the generations and if we continue as we are going our lives and those of our children and grandchildren will be dramatically reduced. There will be soaring prices for ever-diminishing commodities, clean potable water will be scarce and may well be something for which countries will go to war, and the ever growing numbers of people will not be able to feed themselves. If you want to picture this think of Haiti, a country stripped of everything and no longer able to sustain it's population. We cannot ignore "the elephant" in the room any longer and all of us must commit wholeheartedly to the two-pronged approach of population control and reduction of consumption and understand that if you aren't part of the solution you are indeed part of the problem!


Complete and total nonsense.

asfriend
by on Jun. 15, 2012 at 8:31 AM

Still Nonsense

Quoting GaleJ:

You sound so flip, do you not understand what is at stake here? This is a serious subject and if you wish to be at the table you must go beyond the attitude that you present in your reply. We are facing significant issues and every responsible adult must decide for themselves whether or not they are willing to make the difficult decisions so that those that come after us, our children and grandchildren, will be able to have something more than a barely subsistence level life. My husband and I made a thoughtful decision to only have one child. We try to use resources wisely, recycle and reuse as much as possible, and are committed to conscious consumption, buying what we need in a way that takes into account the true cost to Mother Earth of those purchases. We believe that to do otherwise is to be selfish, egocentric, and irresponsible and we care too much for our son, our community, our beautiful blue and green planet to not do our part to care for it.

Quoting ExecutiveChick:

Wow! Okay, so a couple here in favor of Population Control. So I ask, how do we do this?

Might I suggest a few options?

No more helmet laws, seat belt laws, No Socialized Health care, No insurance-No Cash-No Health Care, No more Welfare, Food Stamps, No more food bans/Food Police, Legalize Drugs, No more warning labels, ability to disable airbags, no gun restrictions, etc...

That should reduce the population quite a bit but I would love to hear what you think the right plan is.

Quoting GaleJ:

Everyone who needs to breath or eat or drink needs to start paying attention...MOTHER EARTH AND HER PRECIOUS RESOURCES ARE FINITE...and there is no room for debate on that! I don't care if you are left or right, pro-choice or not, straight or gay, evangelical or humanist, all must come to grips with this. We are rapidly approaching the point where we will have done irreparable harm to the environment that sustains all life on this very small planet. We must immediately begin to limit population growth, in every country, and must reduce consumption. The choices we all make now will echo down the generations and if we continue as we are going our lives and those of our children and grandchildren will be dramatically reduced. There will be soaring prices for ever-diminishing commodities, clean potable water will be scarce and may well be something for which countries will go to war, and the ever growing numbers of people will not be able to feed themselves. If you want to picture this think of Haiti, a country stripped of everything and no longer able to sustain it's population. We cannot ignore "the elephant" in the room any longer and all of us must commit wholeheartedly to the two-pronged approach of population control and reduction of consumption and understand that if you aren't part of the solution you are indeed part of the problem!

 

 


asfriend
by on Jun. 15, 2012 at 8:38 AM
2 moms liked this

I am going to put a request in that we spare you just on general principle, as long as you have your own health insurance.

Quoting mehamil1:

I personally think a good idea would be to give all baby boys vasectomies. It's much cheaper and much quicker and so much less invasive than sterilizing girls. When they grow up they have to prove they can provide for a child. 

It's just an idea that I do not think should or could happen. Though I have heard of doctors in India who are doing this. They are also sterilizing women after they give birth without telling them. That should come back to haunt them later on. 

I have no idea what to do. All I know is that I really need to get on taking survival training classes and I've been meaning to live with the Amish for a few months just to learn how to live without stuff like electricity and a gas stove and how to sew and tend live stock and grow food. I don't know what's going to happen and I will try to be as prepared as possible and have skills that are useful so the people with guns won't kill me. They don't kill useful people. 

Quoting ExecutiveChick:

"Flip" or not, what the OP is about is government intervention and population control. This means reducing, drastically the population of the planet and you said you support this. If "Mother Earth" is on such dire straights, and since water doesn't just fall from the sky and food doesn't just grow on trees, your little gesture of  only having one more human to contribute to overpopulation and your decision to compost and re use tin foil isn't saving the planet or reducing the population.

So, why don't you step down off the soap box and answer the question posed to you and share with the rest of us what is an acceptable plan in your Utopian view to reduce the population?

Who would you sterilize or kill off first and what is your criteria for making those decisions?

 


asfriend
by on Jun. 15, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Any random thought on why that is?

Quoting mehamil1:

You are approaching this from an American perspective. 

The United States consumes the most "stuff". Other places just use the most basic things, like land and water and the food they grow. 

Even in many parts of Europe, it's not unusual for a child to only have a few toys. My son has a bedroom and living room full of toys. All of it bought for him at birthdays or christmas. Other nations are not so consumed with consuming. So women in the third world becoming more educated would not lead to getting more "stuff". Not in the sense we know it. 

Quoting Meadowchik:

I don't know if, generally, lessened consumption would coincide witht he trend of decreased birthrates...remember that the decreased birthrates correlate to women with higher educations and incomes, which may typically mean more stuff.  It may be quite possible that all that stuff is what fills up the days and obligations so much to inhibit more child-bearing.  In a way, we could be replacing babies with things, or, more specifically more babies with just 1 or 2 babies who each require lots and lots of things.  If we could live on less stuff, lots of us might go ahead and have more babies.

I actually think that the resources of humaneness and intelligence is the most important thing we should worry about conserving, which is why I do appreciate your suggestion. 

:)

If we keep those two, IMO individuals will be more likely to make good choices...take away either, especially the first (since the 2nd is already associated witht he first, anyways) then individuals are much likely to go nuts, not surprising if their basic humanness is being micromanaged by bureaucrats. Some of these other well-intentioned "solutions" will IMO result n the demise of humanity or any of the progress we've achieved in the past 10,000 years.

Quoting mehamil1:

This is something that has been on my mind quite a bit. 

Here's one solution: Educate girls. The more educated a woman is, the fewer children she has. The longer she is in school, the longer she puts off child bearing. The more educated she is, the more economic power she has. The more powerful her voice is. 

That's one of many solutions. This is a problem that MUST be dealt with if we are going to survive on this planet. 

 


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