As somewhat of a follow-on to last week's post, I wanted to discuss the issue of demographics and population control outside the emotional considerations made in last week's comments.
Given that Americans use, by far, considerably more resources per capita than any citizen of any other country in the world, should population control measures be introduced (a la China) to acquire better control of environmental and resource impact? Since Americans seem rather unwilling to substantially lower their carbon footprint on their own, perhaps controlling things on the other end of the coin makes more sense.
By controlling the number of Americans on the planet, or those living a high impact lifestyle, do we achieve the same goal of resource preservation and reduction in environmental degradation? In other words, by advising (or requiring) that Americans only reproduce at the replacement rate of approximately 2 children per mating couple (that is, maximum two offspring per person), can we mitigate disaster? This is sometimes called a birth permit system (1.05 permits per person, where each couple gets 2.1 permits), thereby essentially allowing a cap and trade system on reproduction.
I know that many will argue that the biggest upcoming threat to the environment are developing countries such as China and India, but the reality is that the individuals in those societies use far less resources than Americans do. And, when you stop to consider it, a large proportion of pollution generated by countries like China is due to demand of manufactured goods by Americans.
Our demand for cheap products drives the industries that pollute. For us to turn around and complain that this pollution is unfair is really, actually, unfair. The Chinese individual, for the most part, does not benefit from the cheap Elmo toys and dollar goods being generated. Quite the contrary, they suffer immeasurably due to polluted air and water. You can argue that the demand is providing jobs, but given the pittance they are actually getting paid for that labor, it is an arguable benefit at best.
So, what's the solution? If we don't voluntarily and drastically reduce our per personal carbon and resource consumption, is population control of high impact societies a realistic alternative? Would you support a restriction on reproduction?