Monday 5 April 2010

Biosphere in transition. 2. Population

A voluntary one-child policy for the UK?

By dividing the ecological footprint by the biocapacity, one can calculate that in 2005 the UK was 3.2 times overpopulated (Ewing et al. 2008; the ecological footprint is one way of determining the product PAW, and the biocapacity is the carrying capacity calculated in the same units as the ecological footprint). As Charlotte hinted at on 12 November 2009 if we start accepting that living a high impact life is morally unacceptable, maybe it’s also time to start accepting that having more than one child is no longer morally acceptable. If this sounds unattractive, I would point out that as far as I can see there are only two alternatives: the example of China, where the state has enforced a one child policy, or to wait until the carrying capacity drops far enough that mortality will go up. In the book Collapse Jared Diamond gives numerous examples of past societies outstripping their local carrying capacity, and he suggests that the majority of citizens of these collapsing societies would have moved away, something that won't be possible if we continue outstripping our global carrying capacity, so it might be a good idea to not let it get that far.

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