The Optimum Population Trust, an organisation which promotes the radical reduction in human population primarily for the sake of the environment, believes it has come up with a cheap solution to global warming: more contraception. On the face of it there is some plausibility in its argument. But scratch beneath the surface and one soon finds that it is the OPT's research which is based on a serious dose of hot air.
Ever since Malthus argued that without war, pestilence and famine human numbers would always outstrip food production, there has been an intense debate on the relationship between population and development. The debating ground has shifted over the years: is there enough space, food, resources, energy, water and so on. Economists such as Esther Boserup, Peter Bauer, Julian Simon and Bjørn Lomborg have shown that in spite, and even because of, population growth the state of the world has improved and there is no reason to think that it will not continue to do so. The key resource is human beings, we are the solution rather than the problem.
The population and development debate has now moved on to the effect of demographic growth on the environment and, in particular, to the role of human beings as emitters of greenhouse gases and the effect this will have on the world's climate. This is, though, no more than a change of tactics, as the same argument that humans have the ability to solve the problems posed by climate change, holds good here as well. - Dermot Grenham, The Catholic Herald (click below for full article)