Monday, December 28, 2009

Re-framing the Population Issue As a Womens' Rights Issue

Sightline provides some new ways to frame solutions regarding a topic that many tend to avoid when discussing remedies to our most urgent environmental challenges: population.

Says Sightline author, Lisa Stiffler:

So if we want to slow climate change and save the environment as best we can, we've got to get back around to reproduction.

And Engelman says that the answer isn't in punitive actions: legally limiting couples to a single child, sterilization, or creating a tax structure that rewards small families. Instead, the solution lies in investments that make women smarter, employed, and more equal to men. It's the same case that Sightline Institute founder Alan Durning made back in 1997 in the publication Misplaced Blame: The Real Roots of Population Growth: "If we take care of people, population will take care of itself."

I do think taking a 'women's rights' approach to the human population problem has some traction as a motivator that combines the moral power of two crucial issues -- if it is executed with the lessons of The Tipping Point, Made to Stick, and other messaging works in mind.  Ultimately, we have to deal with the reality that there are too many friggin people on this planet using too many resources too inefficiently, at a huge cost to both ourselves and future generations.

Population is a deeply complex and heated issue that gets into the thorniest of cultural, religious and other such questions.  Yet, it is a folly that humanity continues to 'manage' populations of wild animals that we deem too large for their available resource base, when we can't even comfortably discuss 'managing' our own incredibly destructive population.

It's time for this to change.

We continue to punt the need for smart, respectful and practical sustainable population solutions into the future at our own peril.

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