A Few Things Ill Considered

Happy Earth Day

It is of course Earth Day today.

It is an appropriate launch day for a new Science Blog, Guilty Planet. Head on over there for discussions about whether or not humans are a parasitic plague on Mother Earth or not, and how we could choose to live in a sustainable way.

I even saw a link (not an endorsement, BTW) to something called the Voluntary Human Extinction movement…yikes! That seems a tad…um, extreme.

Comments

  1. #1 Milan
    April 23, 2009

    Voluntary extinction is a bit far to go, but perhaps we should be rethinking abstinence and the possibility of population control in the rich world.

  2. #2 Betula
    April 23, 2009

    Milan.

    A few simple observations if I may.

    First, in your blog piece on abstinence. It is obvious this subject is near and dear to your heart, especially with comments like this……

    “Given the degree to which our gross over-use of the natural resources and adaptive capacities of the planet is threatening the future of the human species”

    Your concerns for the resources of the planet are to be commended. Your keen insight and wisdom as to the plight of mankind is exceptional.

    Oh, and I couldn’t help but notice the section of your blog directing us to your “travels”, of which you feel so eager to share with us……Paris, Ireland, Scotland, Turkey….

    Second, regarding your blog piece on “population control in the rich world”.

    I can only assume that when you wrote these profound words…

    “However, given the concerning destruction of the natural world, does it not make sense to reduce policies that encourage reproduction in rich states?”

    that you must have been on one of your many travels to Morocco, New York, Malta, or Estonia and Finland.

    Yes Milan, we must do something about using all those resources and then sharing how they were used for all to see. Hey, I see you even wrote a little book titled “The 2003 Rough Guide To Turkey”. Encouraging more people to travel and use those disappearing resources I have no doubt.

    Finally, perhaps next time you attempt to write about a subject such as “Population Control in the Rich world”, you should do some research.

    In the U.S. “The biggest driver of growth is immigration — legal and illegal”. In addition, “The USA would hardly grow in the next 50 years except for Hispanic immigrants, who have a higher birthrate than non-Hispanic whites”

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-07-04-us-population_x.htm

    Perhaps your next blog piece should be about “Immigration Control In The Rich World”.

    Better yet, how about…. immigrants flocking to the “Rich” nations to seek a better life, only to destroy the world by becoming wealthy and traveling to places such as Morocco, Malta, Paris, Estonia, Turkey, Scotland…

  3. #3 Milan
    April 24, 2009

    To respond to your points:

    Saying that someone has travelled a lot doesn’t prove that the carrying capacity of the Earth is infinite. Indeed, you could argue that the very fact that many environmentalists choose to travel a great deal is evidence for the need to constrain population numbers, since even those with an unusual interest in conservation will still prioritize their own desires over it.

    Secondly, most of my travel took place before I was fully aware of the dangers of climate change. Since then, I have avoided flying and have been looking for other ways to get around. A fair bit of my travel has also been by means other than planes. For instance, I travelled within the UK only by train or bus. I also only travel within the Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto-New York region by train or bus.

    Thirdly, I may have significant lifetime travel emissions, but my emissions in other areas are probably lower than the norm. I have never owned a car and rarely ride in them. I have been a vegetarian for many years now. I keep my apartment fairly cold (about 13˚C to 14˚C in winter) and do not air condition in summer. Finally, I am presently employed at trying to improve climate policy.

    I realize that it is hypocritical to urge restraint on others while not exercising it yourself. That being said, the case is a bit different for reproductive restraint – not least, since I have maintained it so far and have no plans to change that in the decades ahead.

    P.S. When I referred to ‘my’ Rough Guide to Turkey, I meant the book I had with me (borrowed from a friend), not one I wrote. I have only been to Turkey once and don’t know nearly enough about it to write a book.

  4. #4 Milan
    April 24, 2009

    One other point: both of the posts that I linked in my first comment spurred significant discussions, during which important issues were raised and my position was shifted.

    Naturally, you are very much encouraged to contribute your own ideas to the discussion.

Current ye@r *