CLIMATE CHANGE POLITICS-As the United Nations conference on climate change or COP21 came to an end, one of the main issues that needed to be addressed remained conspicuously absent from consideration by world leaders: controlling a world population that is rapidly approaching 7.5 billion people – this, on a planet whose optimum human population is estimated to be somewhere between 1.5 and 2 billion people.
The population issue did come up indirectly when delegates spoke about issues such as the over one billion people now living in India, a country continuing to rely on its carbon fuel-based industrial revolution. This is but one instance prompting proposals that would obligate wealthy first world nations, where a small minority of the world’s population lives on a level way above the rest of the world, to subsidize third world countries, thus enabling them to rely less on a carbon-based economy as they grow and develop. This is essential if the planet as a whole is to survive.
This idea puts forth a fair and reasonable way for developed nations to take responsibility for their disproportionately high share of the global warming catastrophe that continues to profoundly impact the lives of every living thing on this planet. But it still ignores the underlying overpopulation issue that now finds cities like Beijing and Shanghai -- with 5 times the population of Manhattan – to be so polluted from the predictable combustion necessary to sustain unprecedented population density. Indeed, any cure short of lessening population would be specious and an illusion.
Hitler and the Nazis perverted the science of eugenics with notions of a “master race” whose existence should take precedence over all other human beings. But eugenics was once known as simply the science of improving all human life. Perhaps eugenics should be reinvigorated with two principles that could allow the human race to turn the corner on the global warming issue.
First, the superrich need to learn that true wealth and human well-being is not attained by amassing and consolidating great sums of capital. Under the threat of global warming, it seems we have arrived at a point of diminishing returns where more wealth in the hands of a few does not necessarily improve their quality of life. Clearly, it lessens it. Amassing wealth to levels beyond the ability to benefit from it is actually making the rich poorer. The top 1% need to see that global warming is a direct consequence of this imbalance.
Second, to improve the well-being of all, a more valid use of wealth would be to concentrate on meeting the needs of the poorest, focusing on using capital to improve their destabilized standard of living. Doing so is far cheaper than fighting trillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan against poor people with nothing to lose.
It is common knowledge among demographers that as poverty decreases, human reproductive rates decline precipitously, and that drastically cuts back on carbon fuel consumption.
It is hard to reconcile the fanatic elements of our society that kill doctors for performing abortions, yet have no concern for the fact that almost half the world -- over three billion people -- lives on less than $2.50 a day. What if we have arrived at a point where the so called sanctity of life might be threatening the future of all human life on this planet?
A serious commitment to use our technological abilities to develop non-carbon based fuel sources should help us deal with the global warming crisis – as long as all countries concurrently commit to world population control. During World War II, we used 1941 technology to build an atomic bomb in four years. Today, using 2015 technology and the Internet to parcel out the thorny problems of solving global warming, how long do you think it would take science and human beings to develop a carbon neutral society that could continue living on this earth for at least a few more eons?
(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He’s a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at Lenny@perdaily.com) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
Vol 13 Issue 103
Pub: Dec 22, 2015