It's Not Fertility That Counts

Halloween may mark the world reaching 7 billion. Population author Vanessa Baird looks beyond the number into both fertility and consumption rates, showing why it is a mistake to get caught up with the increase in population rather than consumption.
October 28, 2011, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Today, according to the UN's population division, 42% of the world's population lives in countries with fertility at below replacement level. Another 40% are in intermediate fertility countries, where people are replacing themselves. And the remaining 18% are living in countries with high fertility, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where women may be having five or more children on average."

However, according to Baird, the consumption rate of one American or European may be the equivalent of an entire village of Africans.

Nor does Baird target the low population increase in the developed nations as a means to reduce emissions.

"Population is certainly a multiplier, but that does not make it the cause of the problem. As (Green Left Weekly) writer Simon Butler puts it: "People are not pollution. Blaming too many people for driving climate change is like blaming too many trees for causing bushfires."

Instead, she advocates for low-emission policies - transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables and from the single-occupant vehicle to low or zero-polluting modes.

"The excessive focus on population is a dangerous distraction from the core problem, which is not how many of us there are but how we use the planet and share its resources."

Thanks to Patricia Matachek

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Published on Monday, October 24, 2011 in The Guardian - U.K.
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