Monday, 27 December 2010

Population Offsets vs Childcatching

I remember Derek Wall suggesting that carbon offsets were as ludicrous as nicotine offsets which would be paying someone in the developing world not to smoke so that you can smoke yourself.

So where does this leave population offsets? Akin to childcatching? The Optimum Population Trust is running a Population Offset scheme to clear the consciences of people who want to fly by allowing them to contribute to population reduction in developing countries.

The theory is that reducing the population will reduce the impact of people on the planet - a fairly straightforward statement so far, if a little unpalletable. The concept then goes on to suggest that this can be acheived by promoting reproductive health programmes where women don't currently have access to them - again, fairly straightforward and this part is worthwhile:
The problem comes when you add 2 and 2 and end up with 6. The population that is causing the real damage to the ecosystem is right here, not in the poorer areas of Africa or Asia. Providing condoms to those areas is must do but it won't help the planet. The climate is being destroyed now by us, not by the poor in a couple of generations time.

Having a scheme that lets us get away with keeping the status quo is as bizarre as it is dangerous, but this scheme is even more dangerous as it will have an even bigger impact if it fails. Giving people a conscience easing solution will let them keep their heads in the sand. Of course if you really want to reduce the population globally, focussing reductions on poorer nations then the thing to do is to keep flying, buy the Hummer, get a couple more patio heaters, open the doors and windows in winter and emit as much CO2 as you can.

It is the poorer people that are suffering the most. Forget the recent anoyance of the snow in the UK, forget the current disruption in the US and Russia - drought, storms and rising sea levels will reduce the population much more quickly than a family planning programme ever could.

Not quite childcatching then, but a whole lot worse.

3 comments:

DYSACRE said...

Green Man of Kent has got into some muddled thinking here. Family planning services in the third world don't just reduce global population growth, they help the most needy to get out of poverty, be healthier and have a better chance of educating their children. It's just a good thing whether the rich carry on using 4x4s or not. OPT mainly campaigns on the need for the UK - a high consuming country - to acheive population stabilisation and encourages people to consider the environmental consequences of having more than one or two children. Green man is indulging in classic all or nothing thinking. This scheme is not the answer to everything (gosh!), therefore it is useless (er..?), therefore it is evil (er, er...?), therefore it is the most evil thing ever.

Stuart Jeffery said...

DYSACRE you have failed to read my post properly, I said that more family planning in developing countries is a good thing.

I also said that allowing people to discharge their responsibilities through offsetting is wrong and pointless, especially when a scheme promises to do some good but encourages poor thinking and therefore more damaging behaviours.

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