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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Environmentalism Extrema

I mentioned on Sunday that most environmentalists aren't calling for a reduction in the human population.  Some, however, are!  Others have messaged me saying they indirectly support human population reduction through better availability of contraceptive methods and education.  I've also heard the argument made that voluntary population control could help stabilize the economies of extremely depressed regions in Africa.  I guess it's worth keeping in mind that a reduction in per capita consumption only really has an effect if the population is fairly stable or declining.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement has a very interesting stance.  From their website:
"Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense."
Everyone likes to discuss 'carbon footprint', but perhaps 'carbon legacy' is just as important: if my six-person family severely limits its use of natural resources but still consumes more overall than a three-person family with a much higher per capita usage, who is 'more green'?

If I drive a Prius 30 miles to work every day and my coworker drives his old gas-guzzler but lives only 5 miles away, who is doing more to conserve?

Can you really claim to be an 'environmentalist' if you live in a climate where you need to heat your living space five months out of the year?

Should conservation be measured on a 'per-lighbulb' basis, or is it really only a relevant concept when it is considered in terms of all of the decisions an individual makes, including what they buy, what they eat, where they live and work... even how much they reproduce?


(thanks to Kyle for the link, Ben for the 'legacy' concept, and Mr. Somers for a really good point)

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