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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Population, Environment, and Thinking Things Through

Or perhaps I should say "and the Sky Isn't Falling." I was at the cafe of the Science Centre at the university earlier, and it just so happened that there was this huge, framed page from The Age about population being a menace to the environment. There was a big picture, the silhouette of a pregnant woman, that had the caption "A growing problem", I think. What a difference a few years can make. Time was when The Age worried over the economic viability of Australia having a small population. The pendulum has swung the other way for some, I guess. My impression is that some folks in the more affluent countries are too pessimistic. Instead of valuing both the environment and human beings, and putting them together, they seem to see a conflict where there isn't necessarily one. I mean, rather than focusing on culling the human race, why not focus on educating the human race? They might think that shrinking the gene pool is good for the earth, but I wonder if they realize how many future champions of science, the arts and other fields they'll be eliminating from our future. If we now have a few leaders in the sciences have emerged to sound the alarm and do something about the environment, what can be achieved if we invest in more of them?

Oh and I just noticed that we see a lot of prominent people sounding the alarm with.. not exactly the right credentials. Here is a professor of reproductive biology sounding off on terrorism and climate disaster. Here's a poet, and here's a population expert in there talking about CO2 emissions. Don't get me wrong: I'm not a climatologist myself, which is why I can't go gung-ho on my own opinion and limited reading. But I can say that it is wrong to blame it on numbers (of people on the planet) and seek to resolve it by population control in any which way.

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