The relevance of overpopulation in the climate crisis
There are many factors to take into account regarding climate change, but overpopulation is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. Overwhelmingly, emissions are produced by people in the richest countries, industrial development and consumption patterns are primarily responsible for the crisis we are in today.
Many national and international policies have been implemented to stop lower carbon emissions and slow down global warming, as well as to switch from coal-powered energy to greener sources. But none of them counter population growth, which could reduce their positive impact or even completely cancel out their effect. Reducing the number of people being born would cut future carbon emissions, effectively, simply and permanently, and it would boost the effectiveness of other solutions.
This is a question that is not popular and therefore not spoken about by authorities, for many of us, it reminds us of political measures implemented in dictatorial countries since governments implementing population control would mean a withdrawal of rights.
However, there are studies and scientific papers that support this information. A study published in 2017 by the University of Lund and British Columbia suggested that one of the most effective, out of four, measures an individual in the developed world could take to cut their carbon emissions over the long term could be to have one fewer child, which would save 58.6 tonnes per year. In 2019 Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency explicitly called for “bold and drastic transformations” regarding both economic and population policies, including making family planning services available to all and achieving full gender equity.
We can’t deny, also, that we live on a planet with limited resources and that population growth consequently means using more of those resources. But how can population control measures be implemented fairly?