From year to year, population grows at a glacial pace, so it’s tough job to bang the drum about over-population in a glossy annual report year after year. From a public relations point of view, the solution is to pick a trendy angle.
The theme of the 2009 State of the World Population Report is women and climate change. “Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change, even though they contributed the least to it,” says UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. Women are more likely than men to die in natural disasters — including those related to extreme weather. So the solution, it seems is to have fewer women.
The ultimate cause of climate change is people. “No human is genuinely ‘carbon neutral,’ especially when all greenhouse gases are figured into the equation,” the report says in a section entitled “At the brink.” “Therefore, everyone is part of the problem, so everyone must be part of the solution.”
The Wall Street Journal has the best response to this opportunistic doom-mongering:
That sounds like a somewhat totalitarian formulation to us, even if the Fund goes out of its way to shed its image as a eugenics-advocacy group by swapping the term “population control” for “population dynamics.” Indeed, the Fund—unusually for a U.N. organ—favors efficiency when it comes to culling our ranks, citing one finding that “dollar-for-dollar, investments in voluntary family planning and girls’ education would also in the long run reduce greenhouse-gas emissions at least as much as the same investments in nuclear or wind energy.” Even better, the report says other studies indicate that avoiding one billion new babies by 2050 would save as much energy as building two million one-megawatt wind turbines. The environmental argument extends equally to human welfare—the report notes that “the use of voluntary family planning directly decreases child mortality.”
It’s hard to argue with that logic: Eliminating life surely is the most expedient way to avoid the problems it brings. Of course this rationale ignores the possibility that one of those “prevented” lives might have been the one to cure cancer or HIV. Then again, why cure disease if human life itself is a cancer on the planet?