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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Misplaced priorities

This blog has tried to maintain a pragmatic view of Life, the universe and everything. Yet one glaring issue that no one (especially environmentalists) want to talk about is population. The real degradation of the planet is caused by uncontrolled human breeding. Those of us in India see the manifestations and repurcussions of this everyday. The "green revolution" managed to nudge the population to explode with wild abandon. After all precreation is the only recreation for most here. The limiting factor was food and with subsidized, oil fed agriculture we have a king size problem today. The Hindu has this nice opinion piece that hits the nail on the head. From the article.
While the green lobby tells us to fiddle with our standby buttons and low-energy light bulbs, no one is willing to address the accelerating growth in the world's population.

IN THE time it takes you to get to the end of this sentence, seven people have been added to the population of the world. At this rate, the United Nations estimates the number of people on the planet will nearly double by the middle of this century. Even with significant reductions in birth rates, the population is expected to increase from 6.7 billion now to 9.2 billion by 2050.

These figures are staggering. Yet there is hardly a mention of them in discussion of global warming and ensuing climate change.

The U.K., for example, last week unveiled its Climate Change Bill promising to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming by 60 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. Suggested policies to achieve this ranged from banning standby buttons on electrical equipment and old-fashioned, inefficient light bulbs to "capture and storage" of pollution from coal-fired power stations. Others want to limit air travel — a small but fast-growing source of greenhouse gases.

These have been well-intentioned, if not always convincing, ideas. At an Oxford, England, conference, scientists argued against the "Hollywoodisation" of the problem, that it is being promoted beyond the science. And still, everybody is talking only about one half of the equation: the emissions we generate, not how we generate them. All the standby buttons and low-energy light bulbs are dwarfed by the pressure of a global population rising by the equivalent of Britain every year.

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