Worldwatch Institute is one smart organization, and each year, puts out a State of the World report. This year’s report is titled Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity. There is an excellent chapter on population stabilization by the Institute’s President Robert Engelman called, “Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion.” Check it out.
Engelman argues that although “most analysts assume that the world’s population will rise from today’s 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, it is quite possible that humanity will never reach this population size”and could “put the human population on an environmentally sustainable path” if the world does these 9 things:
1. “Provide universal access to safe and effective contraceptive options but for both sexes.”
This seems to also include contraceptive and family planning education for both men and women. Particularly for men in certain cultures, access and use have to be preceded by education on why contraception is ultimately so important to the mothers’ health and too the lives of the children they already have.
2. “Guarantee education through secondary school for all, especially girls.” According to Engelman, “In every culture surveyed to date, women who have completed at least some secondary school have fewer children on average.”
3. “Eradicate gender bias from law, economic opportunity, health, and culture. Women who can own, inherit, and manage property; divorce; obtain credit; and participate in civic and political affairs on equal terms with men are more likely to postpone childbearing and to have fewer children compared to women who are deprived of these rights.”
4. “Offer age-appropriate sexuality education for all students. Data from the United States indicate that exposure to comprehensive programs that detail puberty, intercourse, options of abstinence and birth control, and respecting the sexual rights and decisions of individuals, can help prevent unwanted pregnancies and hence reduce birth rates.”
I would add “parenthood education” to this. It is not just about birth control; it is about young people learning that parenthood is optional, that it requires skills and many levels of readiness.
5. “End all policies that reward parents financially based on the number of children they have. Governments can preserve and even increase tax and other financial benefits aimed at helping parents by linking these not to the number of children they have, but to parenthood status itself.”
This is one of the first places I have seen this written about. I chew on it in detail in the Offspring Assumption chapter in The Baby Matrix. Policies need to turn financial incentives upside down and give the tax benefits to those who have fewer or no children, with the most benefits going to those who adopt children who are already here.
6. “Integrate lessons on population, environment, and development into school curricula at multiple levels. Refraining from advocacy or propaganda, schools should educate students to make well-informed choices about the impacts of their behavior, including childbearing, on the environment.”
Amen. This too gets at a needed post pronatal mindset relating to a pronatalist Offspring Assumption. Young people need to be made very aware of the impact that every child brought into the world has on the world at large.
7. “Put prices on environmental costs and impacts. In quantifying the cost of an additional family member by calculating taxes and increased food costs, couples may decide that the cost of having an additional child is too high, compared to the benefits of a smaller family that might receive government rebates and have a lower cost of living.”
8. “Adjust to an aging population instead of boosting childbearing through government incentives and programs. Population aging must be met with the needed societal adjustments, such as increased labor participation, rather than by offering incentives to women to have more children.”
And again! This is needs more attention out there…
9. “Convince leaders to commit to stabilizing population growth through the exercise of human rights and human development. By educating themselves on rights-based population policies, policymakers can ethically and effectively address population-related challenges by empowering women to make their reproductive choices.”
This last one seems to be less specific that the 8 before it, and yes, all 9 are “biggies” – big endeavors – but truly needed endeavors, if we are to attempt reach a population that can sustain itself in a natural world of finite resources.
Check out my review of the entire excellent report at LiveTrue Books.
What are your thoughts on these strategies?
Tags: global warming, Population, Sustainability, women's issues