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  • Since 1800, the global population has risen from just 1 billion humans

  • to over 7.8 BILLION in 2020.

  • And still, over four babies are born every second.

  • That's around 390,000 new humans a day!

  • So, on a planet with dwindling resources and an increasing strain on natural systems

  • is curbing our booming population the key to solving our environmental woes?

  • Mathematically, we know that more people means more demand for Earth's natural resources.

  • It can be simplified into this equation: population times affluence times technology equals impact on the environment.

  • So, the basic argument that less people would mean less greenhouse gases, less pollution, less habitat destruction

  • makes logical sense.

  • But only on the surface.

  • Because notice that other key variable in the equation.

  • Affluence.

  • The more money populations have to burn, the more fossil fuels are burned along with it.

  • In 2018, just North America and China were responsible for almost half of the world's CO2 emissions.

  • These are also the countries with the highest concentrations of the world's wealthiest people.

  • And get thistheir populations are living longer and having fewer babies, so their population growth is slowing down.

  • By contrast, the poorest half of the worldwhere most global population growth is currently concentrated

  • produces only 10% of the world's CO2 emissions.

  • These populations typically lack the technology and wealth that result in high energy expenditure,

  • increased industrialization, and pollution.

  • So, in climate change projections that take these imbalances into account, it's been shown that redistributing wealth

  • so, reducing both extreme wealth and extreme poverty

  • has as much impact on carbon emissions as reducing overall population would.

  • Let's continue taking the climate crisis as our example.

  • The idea that less people equals less climate change works in theorybut in practice, calculations show that's not the case.

  • Even in projected scenarios where a reduction in population does make a difference in emissions,

  • it's not enough of a difference to affect projected temperature rise.

  • To put it bluntly, no amount of population reduction would achieve the reduction in emissions necessary

  • to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius in our near future.

  • You may have also heard that 'Just 100 companies produce 71% of the world's emissions.'

  • And this is true, but if you take a closer look at that list, you'll find that those companies are oil and gas conglomerates,

  • and eight of the top ten aren't even companies.

  • They're either fully or partially state-owned oil and gas entities in places like China, Russia, Iran, and India.

  • And that same report goes on to say that 90% of all of the emissions from those 100 companies

  • actually comes fromdownstream combustion of coal, oil, and gas for energy purposes.”

  • That's the energy we useeverywhere around the world

  • to heat our homes, fuel our transport, produce our goods...all provided by those 100 companies.

  • If we take all this information together, it boils down to this core idea:

  • it's not huge populations that are making the difference, it's huge resource usage.

  • And this huge resource usage isn't coming from TONS of people...it's coming from relatively few.

  • So, it seems the thing that would make an actual difference is not a reduction in population,

  • but a radical shift in the way we as a species use and share resources.

  • And at the root of it, change what resources we're using.

  • For example, the U.S. lowering its carbon usage by a third of what it is today would have a greater impact

  • than reducing the U.S. population by 100 million people.

  • So, why is population restriction such a popular go-to argument for how to tackle environmental problems like the climate crisis?

  • Realistic solutions for population stabilization and resource redistribution

  • involve long term plans like improving gender equality in the form of women's access to education and family planning.

  • We should always be asking, who benefits from an idea that's not necessarily based in logic.

  • For those who say population reduction is the solution to our problems, whose population are they talking about reducing,

  • and for what purpose?

  • Historically, this argument has been used by those who have an agenda to fulfill...

  • an agenda much more often driven by things like classism, racism, or xenophobia than in actual fact...

  • especially when the real solution is redistribution of wealth, as well as rethinking our use of natural resources

  • natural resources that currently make a very small percentage of people very rich.

  • What are your thoughts on the population control argument?

  • Let us know in the comments, and if you want more on climate change solutions, check out this video here.

  • Subscribe to Seeker to keep up with all your debunkings of popular science myths, and as always, thanks for watching.

  • I'll see you next time.

Since 1800, the global population has risen from just 1 billion humans

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B1 population reduction climate reducing wealth argument

Why Overpopulation Isn’t the Problem You Think It Is

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    Summer posted on 2021/01/16
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