The population-environment connection is riding the climate change bandwagon into the Op-Ed columns—at least overseas. The Observer
’s Juliette Jowit lays out four reasons why “No one is willing to address the accelerating growth in the world’s population”
“[T]he uncomfortable suspicion that environmentalism is a soft cover for more objectionable population agendas to stop or reduce immigration or growth in developing countries. Sometimes it might be. But that doesn’t take away the underlying fact: that more people use more resources and create more pollution.”But, she concludes, this is no reason to “to ignore one half of the world’s biggest problem: the population effect on climate change.” The lively comment board takes sides on this sometimes-controversial linkage with gusto.
London-based journalist Gwynne Dyer argues in the New Zealand Herald that despite some progress, the “Population bomb [is] still ticking away” in many developing countries. Like Jowitt, he bemoans population’s perceived political incorrectness, which means it “scarcely gets a mention even in discussions on climate change.”
But not talking about population growth is a “failure of government”—especially when the consequences include not only poverty, but war, he says:
“Often, however, the growing pressure of people on the land leads indirectly to catastrophic wars: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Uganda, Somalia, Congo, Angola, and Burundi have all been devastated by chronic, many-sided civil wars, and all seven appear in the top 10 birth-rate list. Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, which have suffered similar ordeals, are just out of the top 10.”Aside from the rough correlation he draws between fertility rate and civil conflict, Dyer doesn’t cite any reasons or research supporting this indirect link. Experts writing in the ECSP Report’s “Population and Conflict” series provide a more nuanced look at this relationship.