Offset Your CO2: Buy the Pill for the Poor
The world's population has reached 6.8 billion people, and that number is growing. A year from now, it's said to increase by about 86 million, or over 7 million people a month--enough to fill a city like Hong Kong. The shocking population growth only serves to exacerbate the ever-worsening climate crisis. Solutions to this problem are wrought with controversy--namely for singling out the population growth in developing nations. How can we even think of telling people they can't reproduce as they'd like? Well, according to the Optimum Population Trust (Opt), an alarming 80 million babies are 'unwanted.'
With that in mind, Opt has a surprisingly novel solution: Let's give them the birth-control pill.Opt, an organization back by the naturalist Sir David Attenborough and other preeminent green pioneers, has some encouraging figures to support its conclusion: An investment of $8 a year spent on contraceptives would reduce rapidly accelerating carbon emissions by 10 tons--the equivalent of a flight from London to Sydney, the organization states. And, according to The Guardian, it would take an investment of $30 in wind power, $62 in solar energy and $112 in hybrid vehicle technology to equal the carbon offsetting achieved by providing oral contraception to one woman in a developing nation.
Getting developing nations on the pill to reduce the population growth would also have the added benefit of lowering the number of people harmed by climate change, says Roger Martin, Opt's director. Reducing the population growth in developing countries would also alleviate the food and water crisis in some of the world's poorest regions, and increase the availability of humanitarian assistance.
Opt believes that proactive methods being proposed now to offset carbon emissions, largely adding green infrastructure, have adverse side-effects on the ecosystems it inhabits. The population reduction of contraception, on the other hand, will effectively undercut many of the problems that arise--which these infrastructural changes are aiming to ease.
A New Take on an Old Solution?
Providing people in the poorest nations with contraception is nothing new. However, dispensing free condoms and education on family planning has its limitations. Unplanned and unwanted pregnancies may be reduced with condoms and awareness, but unless they are used 100 percent of the time, the effectiveness is cut significantly. The contraceptive pill, on the other hand, may be nearest method to abstinence at avoiding pregnancy.
It offers a practical and sensible response. For the first time ever individuals, companies and organizations will have the opportunity to offset their carbon voluntarily by supporting projects to provide family planning services where there is currently unmet demand.
If we are sincere in our commitment to reduce carbon emissions, ideas like the one offered by Opt seem among the most sensible. While to some the notion may sound a bit Orwellian, the potentially apocalyptic famines, droughts, and wars caused by unchecked population growth and global warming sounds a bit worse, doesn't it?
More on Solutions to Overpopulation
Less Sex, More Tv Solution to India's Overpopulation?
Population Growth, Resource Overconsumption at Center of 'Looming Catastrophe'
TreeHugger Forums: Population Control