Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Precautionary Principal: Overpopulation our Climates Biggest Threat

The precautionary principle is an official guiding policy that says: “even where it is not certain that serious or irreversible harm will be caused, if it is likely, action should be taken to prevent it.” (Beder, 2006). Overpopulation is an issue where precautionary principal is taken into consideration as environmentalist, and the world as a whole are starting to see overpopulation as a threat to environment. In the article “Overpopulation is the Biggest Threat to Our Climate”, the author Roger Martin makes an unequivocal statement of the precautionary principle. He gives warning of the consequences of overpopulation, which will be met, if not dealt with in a timely fashion. In this blog post, I will analyse the precautionary principle, a key principle discussed in Sharon Beder’s Environmental Principals and Policies an Interdisciplinary Introduction, and the way in which is was used in Roger Martin’s article.

Martin states:

Our planet is finite, it cannot support an infinite number of people, so population growth, caused by more births than deaths, will definitely stop one day. And when it stops, it will be because of either fewer births or more deaths (or some combination) (Martin, 2009)

He suggests that due to overpopulation environmental problems such as high carbon emissions are worsening. It is up to the governments then, to implement a regulation on population, such as family planning, to lower population growth, thus help lower carbon emissions. Where there is no certainty of the outcomes of such actions, the results are better than the situation at hand; therefore it is safe to proceed with any implementations set fit by the government. Applying limits on the number of births maybe one way to prevent environmental damage. Introducing incentives to families with less children and having a fee to pay for large families may be another, and simple introducing contraception into population may be a third.

The implementation of contraception in developing countries will reduce the population rate and help lower people’s “carbon footprint” or negative impact on the environment. Implementing contraception would not deprive people from having children like China’s One-Child-Policy, but rather control the amount of children families want, and help regulate when they want them. Developments such as the UN have statistics that correlate with similar problems, and the solutions, which they propose, agree with Martin’s precautionary thinking.

I believe that Martin’s precautionary thinking is correct, however he fails to address the fact that it is not only developed countries that have already implemented changes to try and create a more sustainable world. Developing countries have also implemented changes to create a more sustainable environment. These developing countries turn to the developed countries for support, since many of them don’t have the means to implement population control measures for their countries.

Although Martin fails to recognize the point stated above, the precautionary principle behind his article was well constructed. The principle was applied in Martin’s ideas as it proceeded with action due to uncertainty of the outcomes of overpopulation. With the use of ‘family planning’, regulations on population, and/or contraception; populations around the world can be controlled. With fewer people population our earth, the impact humans play on our environment will decrease, leaving a healthier, more sustainable planet.


Martin, Roger. mixmysalad. 20 october 2009.

"UN Population Division Brief." March 2009. Accessed: December 24, 2009.

Sex, Food, and Climate Change

Not only will a condom save you from making a mistake, it can also help save the environment. The increasingly large human population on the earth is posing major problems for everyone. It causes heavy emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, which can result in drastic climate change. Increasingly more severe climate change and pollution, is leading to food and freshwater shortages, and causing many more negative effects on the environment. In the article “Sex, food, and climate change: Can contraception save us from catastrophe?” the author, David Pike, suggests contraception as a method to curb overpopulation and its ensuing negative effects. He claims that measures to reduce Earth’s population must be taken, or else “we will not be able to avoid the much-feared “tipping point” of catastrophic climate change, with disastrous consequences for all” (Pike, 2009). His claims are strong, but his argument could be strengthened by employing various environmental principles, such as the human rights, sustainability and precautionary principles.

The human rights principle, states that all people are entitled to fair and equal treatment, which includes the rights to life, health, and wellbeing. Overpopulation causes a violation of these rights for many people. Climate change and pollution caused by extensive emissions is resulting in droughts and freshwater shortages in many parts of the world. These factors are in turn drastically reducing annual crops and creating massive food shortages and famine. Many people, especially in developing countries, die from starvation and diseases because they lack access to food and clean water. According to the World Health Organization, in the year 2000 “more than 150,000 premature deaths were attributed to various climate change impacts” (Beder, 2006). Climate change created by overpopulation is an indirect cause of these deaths, and therefore overpopulation leads to a violation of human rights. If Earth’s population is reduced, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution could be reduced, and our resources and environment would also be protected.

According to the sustainability principle, it is necessary to protect the environment and preserve resources so that the global economy can be sustained far in the future. If the population does not decrease, the major strains on the environment and natural resources will increase further. It is the responsibility of our generation to allow future generations to have a viable economy. The future economy will suffer extremely if people continue to consume our limited resources, and pollute the earth at the current pace. The population should therefore be reduced in order to protect later generations from these negative consequences.

It is not scientifically proven that overpopulation will cause a lot of damage, but since the potential consequences are so high, measures should be taken to decrease the population growth as soon as possible. The precautionary principle states that action should not be delayed despite a lack of scientific certainty when there is the potential for serious or permanent harm. According to UN scientists, “severe droughts experienced in many countries in 2005 could become a semi-permanent phenomenon” (Beder, 2006). Overpopulation results in significant climate change and environmental damage, which may pose major threats to future generations. The possibility that these negative impacts may be irreversible; should be reason enough to take precautionary measures to reduce overpopulation.

Earth’s continually increasing population poses a severe threat to the environment and to future generations. When environmental principles are used to examine this issue, reasons can be seen to warrant taking action against overpopulation. If actions are not
taken, human rights will be violated and later generations will be left with a lack of resources, a poor economy, and a degraded environment. If the human rights, sustainability, and precautionary principles are employed, an effective and convincing argument can be made for decreasing the current population.

Works Cited

Beder, S. (2006). Enviromental Principles and Policies an Interdisciplinary Introduction. London: Earthscan.

York, P. (2009, November 19). Sex, food, and climate change. Retrieved November 25, 2009, from The

The environment vs. economic growth – The Sustainability Principle

How much can we use? Are there enough resources on this Earth to help sustain the current global population expansion all over the world? These questions and more are explored by scientists and professors to try and help know our limits. It is clear that us as humans need to globally expand but how do we know when to stop? In many opinions the rich are the ones to blame for overconsumption, others say that it is just the way it is and that it cannot be stopped and can just be controlled. My opinion is that the growth population is here to stay and cannot go away. If there was a law implied that restricted the number of children you can have, then I feel that is a violation against human rights. People will reduce the number of children only if they want too.

In the article Sex, food, and Climate Change the author points out many flaws with overpopulation such as: by 2080, 1.1 to 3.2 billion people will experience water scarcity, 200 to 600 million will be starving, and 2 to 7 million people each year will experience coastal flooding. It is also expected that the world’s population will plummet after 2050 because of famine, drought, disease, and war (ie. water wars?). Helmut Burkhardt said, “It’s important to expose the misconceptions that only overconsumption is the cause of ecological problems, and not overpopulation. A drastic reduction of the few overconsumers, and reasonable and just increase in consumption by the numerous poor will raise the world average consumption of resources in a planet already suffering from ecological stress near the tipping point.” This just goes to show that the world must be reminded that overconsumption must be reduced and it is because of us humans.

An ecological footprint is the effect one has on the earth, environmentally. As a country the United States create the biggest footprint in the world, followed by the United Arab Emirates, and then Canada. While these countries produce the highest amount of emissions countries like India still are not as technological and environmentally profound than developed countries.

However the world’s population will always be growing and some groups will try their best to try and reduce these numbers. The economy and money will always have an upper hand on society and such environmental groups. Instead of growing at 2.4 per cent each year, the economy would grow at 2.1 per cent annually if Canada met an ambitious, science-based emission reduction target. Canada's overall GDP growth is 2.2 per cent annually but policies implied by Environmental Minister of Canada Jim Prentice will not have enough of an impact on the environment. Also, with the world in an economic slump, the government of any country will not sacrifice their economy for the benefit of the environment. In other words, if the country can improve their economy by destroying a little bit of environment then they are going to do it.

Overall, I think the economy and the government has too much of a stranglehold on the policies induced. Overpopulation can only be controlled and I think that is the way it will be for years to come unless there is a policy that is effective and does not violate human rights.

References: York, Paul

Demerse, Clare

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blog 8

Sex, food, and climate change

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to talk to you about the social and environmental effects that overpopulation has. The article “Sex, food, and climate change” by Paul York, contains some interesting ideas about how the problem of overpopulation will be dealt with. Although York produces reasonable descriptions of the effects caused by an excess of people, his solutions should not be used because of many social principles that would be against their effects. Paul York believes, among other things, that “The reality is that if the practice of contraception is not widely adopted, another type of population control will be implemented: mass murder.”(York, 2009) The social and environmental policies that would most likely be affected by York’s solutions are the equity principle, the human rights principles, and the sustainability principle.

The idea of equity is simple: fairness, to both present and future generations. In his article, York states that in the years to come there will be famine, water scarcity, and disease due to the problems associated with overpopulation. York is clearly concerned about the future and future generations but one must not forget that the equity principle also deals with the present generation. Later in the article, York claims that if contraceptives are not widely used, mass murder in developing countries will be the resultant population control. Where is the Fairness in this solution? The truth is that it is not fair to anyone in the countries that would be affected by this. To clarify, the mass murder would be indirect by his definition, and caused by a lack of aid to any countries that are in need, leaving them to fend for themselves in emergency situations. The equity principle would not agree with this solution and neither would the next principle for similar reasons.

The human rights principle pertains to the rights of life, health, and wellbeing. Conversely, York states “...let the developing world—namely sub-Saharan Africa—die, and we will hoard all the resources for ourselves.” (York, 2009) From a human rights point of view this is completely unacceptable. All people have the right to live; it is not fair to allow those who are in need to die in order to gather all of the resources for the rest of the world. If all humans are entitled to the same rights then there is no way that any group of people is more entitled to live. Although all humans have the right to live, in order to live there must be sufficient resources to do so; this is when the sustainability principle becomes important.

The sustainability of our planet, on the other hand, would benefit from a decrease in population size. For years it has been believed that the world will soon run out of food, and as York claims, “Malthus’s ideas are now back in vogue as global food futures are uncertain...” (York, 2009) Sustainability is very important when talking about an ever-growing population, the truth is, people need to eat and an excess of people require a lot of food. In terms of the sustainability principle, there would be huge benefits in decreasing the amount of people in the world, namely: less stress on resources.

In conclusion, although Paul York may believe that allowing the developing countries to die will solve the overpopulation problem, there are many problems with that idea. The sustainability principle may agree with a decrease in the human population, but when taking both the equity and the human rights principle into account York’s solution is not a suitable option. Therefore, other solutions must be found to solve the problem of overpopulation, mass murder is not the answer.


York, Paul. “Sex, food, and climate change.” The November 19, 2009. Accessed: November 22, 2009.

Overpopulation - The Biggest Threat to our Planet's Survival

The issues of overpopulation affect many different principles and policies such as the sustainability principle, equity principle and precautionary principle. In Ace Smith’s article Overpopulation - The Biggest Threat to our Planet's Survival he addresses these points and urges for something to be done about the world’s overpopulation crisis.

The sustainability principal states that the Earth does not have an unlimited carry capacity and eventually we will run out of space and resources. This relates extremely well to overpopulation because an unsustainable planet will be caused by too many people. Some people now believe that with new technologies the earth will be able to maintain an always growing population. This solution may work in developed countries where the new food production techniques or recycling plants are available. But the greatest population increases are in developing countries that are not well off financially and unable to support themselves. So really, without decreasing the population there is little than can be done especially in developing countries to support sustainable development. Another point of sustainability is the ecological footprint of individuals which again is too large for the planet to successfully support.

Intergenerational equity takes in to consideration the distribution of rewards and burdens not just in the current generation but for present generations. With the topic of overpopulation the more children that people have now may increase their present day benefits. But with a larger population there will inevitably be greater carbon emissions, use of more resources and other negative effects towards the environment. Some people argue that future generations do not exist yet and we will not know what kind of needs they will have. They will not be able to reprimand us for not taking care of the environment so why should we make ourselves suffer in the present day? But the opposition assumes that future generations have the right to clean air, food and water. I believe that they are right and we need to take care of the environment to future generations can live and prosper.

The precautionary principle can also be applied to this situation by stating that the population is increasing at an alarming rate and in the present day it seems to be causing problems with a lack of resources to support everyone or increased carbon emissions. Although some people do not believe this problem is evident it can be assumed that the more people on the earth the greater the carbon emissions and thus a detrimental effect on the environment. But it is unknown all the effects of overpopulation so is it better to act now and cut down the population manually or let nature run its course and hope that the planet can support us? It is generally thought to be better to reduce our population now to protect us from unforeseen consequences in the future.

The overpopulation problem affects many different aspects of the environment and society. This can be seen through use of the sustainability principle, equity principle and precautionary principle.

Smith, A. (2008, August 13). Overpopulation - the biggest threat to our planet's survival. Retrieved from

Monday, November 23, 2009

Family Planning Regulation

Family Planning Regulation

The population growth of the world is one of the leading environmental problems. Overpopulation can lead to many problems such as overconsumption which limits the number of resources that are available for everyone to sustain life. The rate of population growth is very high especially in developing countries. 90% of the world’s population is concentrated in these areas. Population growth is increased by poverty. This article promotes the challenge of family planning. For example, having only planned pregnancies is one of the key ideas trying to be encouraged. The argument between this kind of regulatory control and the idea of economic incentives will be argued in this blog.

Throughout the article I chose, the regulation of family planning is highly emphasized. Contraceptives are promoted throughout the article. In the United Kingdom the government set up a teenage pregnancy strategy to try and promote the awareness of teens about teenage pregnancy. In year 2000 they implemented the Teenage Pregnancy Unit. The purpose of these programs were to provide specific messages on peer pressure, the option of waiting for sex, sexually transmitted infections, using contraception and condoms. Correct contraceptive information is trying to be promoted by these groups. For example, people in Rwanda believe that contraceptives such as birth control may lead to permanent sterilization. This organization wants to eliminate such rumors. The program is also aimed at problem groups that are often neglected such as boys and young men, young people from black to ethnic minority communities and ones in care homes. The methods and resources that are available to these target groups should be readily available. Vasectomies and male sterilization should be encouraged also and made available as well as for females, hysterectomies. Policies such as the one child policy in China should be a last resort. That is because they are liable to be neglectful of the human rights of some women, and of additional children who arrive despite the policy and also may be unnecessary in some countries. Fiscal incentives to encourage women to have large families should be discouraged.

Through economic incentives, meaning that the government grants an organization with money to for the quality of their work, overpopulation can be controlled instead of just an education about premarital and teenage pregnancies and other self control programs. Such ‘bribes’ can be used to encourage people to use these contraceptives. I mentioned before that the majority of the population growth in the future years will be in third world countries, areas that are struggling economically. Money is a high commodity any where in the world so this could be beneficial. Some negative effects of these incentives could be increased crime. But personally I think these incentives will give these people an opportunity for them to make a difference to the world as well as benefit with the extra money that they might be in desperate need. Also incentives should be rewarded to families that have one child or the maximum two.

Overall, I think that the idea of economic incentives is a good idea for the environment and will help encourage people to reduce unplanned pregnancies. Clearly the whole sexual education is not working as well as planned, so why not give something that everybody wants?


Guillebaud, John., Accessed Nov. 16th/09

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

China's One Child Policy...The Way To GO?

In the article A Brief History of China’s One Child Policy, the Chinese government calls to implement a policy that limits families to having only one child. In this article, possible rulings and solutions to regulating population in China are discussed. A regulatory control approach is favoured in the article, however in this blog post, the opinions of both financial incentive and regulatory control methods will be discussed and analyzed in order to deduce the best opinion.

The Chinese Government is proposing the policy that would limit every family to having only one child. The author, Laura Fitzpatrick , has cited many varied reasons for the supporting of this. First, they argue the population growth was taking a toll on the nation's food supply. For example, the decreased per capita food availability in China, despite phenomenal increase in their production has caused poverty in many parts of China, which has leads to malnutrition, hunger, and disease. (Gale 2002) The author’s concern was in considering China’s population, which is over 1.3 billion people, demand for food will overpower supply of food. This will result in a higher poverty rate in China, but also with so many inhabitants living in a space, the country will become more and more crowded. This high population will lead to an increased pressure on resources like land, water, natural forests, and animals, leading to many far-reaching effects. For example: fragmentation of land below the economic level, the shortage of drinking and irrigation water, deforestation to increase the area under agriculture, and pollution of water, land, food materials.

In the case of population regulation to lessen its negative effects stated above, an outright ban is not the only solution. Financial incentives as exemplified by having to pay the Chinese government a set fee, if you are to have more then one child is a less extreme alternative that is practical and sustainable. By setting a fee per every child a family has over one child, the government does not prohibit families to have one child only, however because there is a cost to have over one child, there is an incentive to have less children. The first argument against the ban and in favour of a feeing system is one regarding gender equality and health of women.

The author of this article strongly claims,

With boys being viewed as culturally preferable, the practice of female infanticide — which had been common before 1949 but was largely eradicated by the 1950s — was resumed in some areas shortly after the one-child policy went into effect. The resulting gender imbalance widened after 1986, when ultrasound tests and abortions became easier to come by. “ (Fitzpatrick, 2009)

Next, the One Child Policy negatively affects farmers and families who depend on their children to provide for them. Although the One Child Policy does allow for some lenience in the matter, allowing families to choose how many kids they see fit to have, so that they are able to provide for themselves is a fair practice.

In my opinion, the option of an economic incentive is significantly more practical option. Since the environmental, monetary, and health benefits would be much higher if a feeing system were to be implemented, it seems like a much better alternative. If this system were put into place, changes would not be immediate, but they would be very sustainable and long-term. Most people are not willing to put forth money unless they need it. The people who would pay the fee in order to have larger families would be families that utilise these “extra” members for their survival. By taking off the pressure of only being able to have one child, perhaps women would gain some equal rights in China’s society and the practice of illegal abortions and poor health care to women and children would improve.

In conclusion, when it comes to overpopulation, extremism might not always be the way to go. Whether environmentalists like it or not the world is going to be become more and more populated with or without the One Child Policy. Convincing people, especially those who are in need or larger families, and women, who are continually demeaned in society, that this policy is “the way to go” will be near-impossible at this point with out putting people’s health and lives at risk. It is for these reasons that I believe; in this case, a financial incentive is more practical and sustainable than regulatory control.


Fitzpatrick, Laura. Brief History of China’s One-Child Policy. (July 27, 2009),8599,1912861,00.html Accessed Nov. 18, 2009.

Blog 7

Falling Fertility Rates Makes for Happy Economists?

When one hears the term “overpopulation” the thought of China’s one child policy immediately comes to mind, and for good reason too. China’s one child policy is responsible for reducing the global population by 300-400 million according to the article, “Falling Fertility Rates Makes for Happy Economists?” by R. Albert Mohler. The author of the article supports the One Child Policy as a form of regulatory control, but there are other ways to combat this problem, for instance it may be handled by using economic incentives instead.

The One Child Policy is a form of regulatory control that was introduced three decades ago to reduce the population of China. In terms of reducing population size, the policy was a success, but unfortunately there was a heavy cost to this form of control. One positive effect is that “China’s population is probably 300m-400m lower now than it would have been without [the One Child Policy].”(Mohler, 2009) but some believe this policy may have been too strongly enforced. For instance, because of the strict policy many mothers endured forced abortions and/or were forced to give children up for adoption. In this way the One Child Policy destroyed the rights of these families. The policy also took away the rights of those who were forcibly sterilized by invading their privacy and taking away their chance of reproducing. There are other ways that the overpopulation problem can be solved; a one child policy is not necessary.

One possible way of controlling the population would be to use economic incentives such as lowering taxes for families that only have one child. This incentive would be an efficient way of controlling family sizes because if the tax reduction was significant enough then families would voluntarily choose to have fewer children. Using an economic incentive to control population size is an effective solution because unlike the One Child Policy an incentive gives people a choice and is less of an ethical issue. Economic incentives would also be less economically demanding than a one child policy and a very effective way of managing population size. Therefore, a reduction in taxes for families with only one child would be a very preferable way of managing population size.

I would prefer to use economic incentive as a way of maintaining population size because there is more freedom but at the same time it is effective because people will choose to have smaller families due to the incentives. Economic incentives may seem cost intensive, but in actual fact they are less expensive than a regulatory control. In this situation, the policy must be enforced and monitored which is very expensive since there is a need for many enforcers and also a need to pay them. The solution that does not challenge rights and is less expensive is using economic incentives. Therefore I would prefer to use economic incentives to manage population size.

In conclusion, although the One Child Policy in China is effective, there are more efficient and less problematic ways of decreasing a population. Creating tax reductions for families with only one child will also persuade families to have less children but in a more humane way. This policy would be preferred because there are less ethical issues and would also be less expensive than maintaining the strict regulations of China’s One Child Policy. Therefore, while the One Child Policy may be effective, economic incentives would also be effective and would not interfere with people’s rights.


Mohler, R. A. “Falling Fertility Rates Makes for Happy Economists?” The Christian Post. Last updated: November 12, 2009. Date accessed: November 14, 2009.

China's one-child policy has added benefits

Many articles believe that China’s one child policy is too restrictive of people’s rights but in Gwynne Dyer’s article “China's one-child policy has added benefits” she believes that although it does intrude on rights it is still a necessity to keep China’s fertility rate and population down to a reasonable level. The policy states that each family is allowed to have only one child, although exceptions are made for rural families were the first born is a girl or handicapped or people are of ethnic minorities. (Dyer, 2007) An alternative to this regulatory control could be an economic incentive by giving families more money for the fewer children they have.
The incentive would work by the government giving families with fewer children more money than ones with many children. It would also have to depend on income because a $1000 reimbursement is worth more to people of different incomes. The economic incentive method would clearly not intrude on people’s rights to have children. The option is still available to them; they just need to be well off financially so they can support the extra child without the given money. This is also a good basis for a sound economic society. It means that each child will be properly taken care of because of prosperous family settings. This hopefully insures that there only enough people in the country that can be provided for which is one of china’s biggest problems now.
But with a relaxation on the one child policy the birth rate will rise again and this economic incentive may not always work. In order for people to always choose the incentive instead of children it would have to be an incredibly large sum of money and with the number of births in china the government wouldn’t have enough funds to support it.
But what about the children of unplanned pregnancies or lower class families that need the children to work? These women will probably have their children despite the incentives for not having them. It is unknown how many women would be in these situations, but it could have the effect of rising the birth rate again, thus destroying the positive effect of the policy of the past 30 years. Or because all these families have been suppressed by the government for the past three decades there could be a population boom. With such a rapid number of births the country would again not be able to support them all.
The one child policy is an intrusion of human rights, but I along with Dyer believe that China had no other choice. In the article China is compared to India and in the 70’s they both had close fertility rates and China had a greater population. In 2020 it is predicted that China’s population will level off around 1.4 billion while India’s will continue to grow to 1.7. With the policy China’s population would be close to 2 billion, which is a significantly more than there is now. Crowded living conditions and poor air quality are already problems in China, so the country would not have been able to support 600 million more people because they can’t support every one as it is.
So in the case of China’s one child policy I and Dyer believe that regulatory control should remain implemented instead of an economic incentive because people will have the children anyways and China in a dire situation that calls for drastic action.
Dyer, G. (2007, October 27). China's one-child policy has added benefits. Retrieved from

Thirty Years Later and Still Standing

When you give them an inch, they think they can take a mile. China on the other hand does not believe in this policy. According to Tini Tran of the Associated Press, believes “China will not consider changing its one-child policy for at least a decade for fear that a population surge could spark social and economic instability” (Tran 2008). This policy was put in place 30 years ago in order to aid the overpopulation, economic and environmental issues facing the country. With the 30th anniversary approaching the country in contemplating uplifting the one child policy, causing debates worldwide. If the government decides to up lift the child policy and Tran’s prediction are correct then the Chinese society would be devastated, with an incredibly dense population. There are two ways to look at the situation, they can up lift the policy and offer economic to their people, or continue with regulatory control.

Regulatory control otherwise known as command and control is when the person or group in control, puts in place a rule/law that a person under that power must obey and follow. There are three type of command and control “mechanisms that regulators can choose to implement: ambient, emissions, or technology standards” (Anderson 2008). The one child policy would fall under the ambient category which revolves around the environment and pollution. As stated early the Chinese government put in effect the policy/law that each woman in china was only permitted to give birth to one child in their life time. The policy was put in place to combat the ridiculously high population, and its effects on the economy and the environment. The policy has been proven successful as the policy “has prevented an additional 400 million births. China's population currently stands at 1.3 billion, growing 16 to 17 million annually” (Tran 2008). The only down fall to a regulatory control policy is that it has expensive costs of enforcing the rules. There is no reason to uplift the policy if it is proven to be successful in Tran’s mind.

The other position that could be taken when approaching China’s fast growing population is to offer an economic incentive. Economic incentives are normally cash incentive given by the government or a company, to try and entice a person or persons to follow a given principle. A common example of economic incentives would be the government offering home owners, cash rebates to replace aspects of their home like lights, or toilets to be more energy efficient. In the situation of China’s population problem, the government could offer cash incentives to limiting the amount of children a family decides to have. The one problem that could arise with this way of action is that a family may decide they want two children instead of the past one, already the annual birth rate has doubled to 34 million babies annually and that is only one extra child per family, imagine the numbers if families start having 2-4 children the numbers would be unbelievable.

I personally agree with Tini Tran’s argument of keeping the one child policy. I think the one child policy should stay in effect for the sake of the environment, their country, as well as our country. The policy has been proven effective, with the numbers to back it up, why remove something that still works. The consequences to the environment would be terrible, our resources would be consumed much quicker, and the pollution being produced would be unthinkable. China is already the most densely populated country in the world; imagine if there were even more people living there, the country would become unlivable with so many people. Also if you think our highways and big cities are busy now, if the policy was dropped there could potentially be millions more people immigrating to Canada increasing our population, using our resources and destroying our environment. Regulatory control is doing its job in China, so why risk having to face the consequences if it is removed.

Anderson, D. (2008, July 29). Regulatory Policy vs Economic Incentives. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from Environmental Literacy Council:

Tran, T. (2008, March 28). China One-Child Policy to Stay in Place. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from Fox News:,4675,ChinaOneChildPolicy,00.html

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No More One Child Policy China

China has claimed that it will continue the “One-Child-Policy” through another five-year planning period. The policy prevents an increase in the birthrate of China, however both moral and ethical issues arise when taking these measures. Conflicts between health and gender equality cause people to re-examine the ethical viewpoints of the one-child-policy. The article chosen states that the One-Child-Policy should not be implemented to slow population growth in China and is not crucial in maintaining a healthy population on our planet. This post will examine the moral/ethical issues behind China’s One-Child-Policy, and the authors statement will be analysed through a consequentialist and non-consequentalist point of view.

A consequentialist view is one of a utilitarian; one that would judge an issue by determining the moral worth of its actions based on the outcome. In the article “One Child Policy in China Designed to Limit Population Growth”, the author argues that the outcome of the One-Child-Policy is beneficial enough to account for its means. “The rule has been estimated to have reduced population growth in the country of 1.3 billion by as much as 300 million people over its first twenty years.” (Rosenberg, 2009) It is still being questioned if the One-Child-Policy is the sole reason for lowering China’s fertility rate; IUD’s, sterilization, and abortion are China’s most popular forms of birth control, and China has provided education and support for alternative birth control methods more so than many countries in the world. It is not certain, nor will there ever be an end to justify the means of what exact method resulted in a lower fertility rate in women, and a decrease in the Chinese population, however statistically, after the One-Child-Policy was implemented, the population of China decreased by some 300 million people in the first twenty years.

Going along with a non-consequentialist view now, and analysing the One-Child-Policy, we would look at the matter not in terms of the result, but rather by the practice. A deontologist must abide by the rules that are put in place by the government or authority when making decisions. “China has proclaimed that it will continue its one child policy, which limits couples to having one child” (Rosenberg, 2009) The policy is made to limit the number of children allowed per family, however in doing so there is in an excess of boys now in China. Most families are keen on having a boy to carry on the family name, and to aid in financial support. As a result, the one-child-per-family policy has been linked to female infanticide, forced abortions, and selective abortion of female fetuses. Not only are these practices un-safe, they also demonstrate great gender inequality in the population of China. If there is not a mutual respect and desire for both male and female children, China will have an unstable population in the future, and male chauvinist population in the present. Here there is a connection made between the rights of male and female parties. We are to treat both parties with equal respect and equal rights, and by law it is wrong to abort a child based on its sex. The One-Child-Policy may be a way to decrease the population in China, however the actions in doing so may be seen as felonious, therefore not acceptable to a deontologist.

It has been established through the perspective of a consequentialist and non-consequentialist’s that the One-Child-Policy is wrong morally and ethically. The utilitarian’s arguments were based on results gained from studies done on different methods of birth control, which stated that above many countries, China educates their population on birth control methods that causes a decrease in the population without practicing any illicit actions, such as infant abandonment and sex-selective abortions, or favoring a male or female side. The deontologist’s views explained how certain actions, such as the ones listed above which are rooted by the policy, would be viewed as unlawful and thus un-acceptable in society.
In conclusion this article uses both viewpoints from a utilitarian and a deontologist to prove the China’s One-Child-Policy is ethically and morally wrong.


Rosenberg M., About.Com:Geography. (2009) “China's One Child Policy

One Child Policy in China Designed to Limit Population Growth” April 12, 2009. Accessed November 3, 2009.

An American 'One Child Policy?'

In previous blogs there has been talk about the “One Child Policy” in China which basically states that all families can only have one child to help reduce the high number in population. Another aspect to the law is that males were a higher priority than males, a term in which is defined by female infanticide. These laws are affecting China as well, as a high percentage of the population is 60 and older, resulting in high costs just to preserve the health of these seniors, instead of building for the future. There is much controversy about this law and that China will not be able to sustain their high power because there are not enough children for the future to help sustain the country. Anyways, in America they do not want to specifically bring back the exact same ideals as the Chinese version of the ‘One Child Policy’ but have a slight alteration. Instead of forced abortion which is abundant in China, they would have a carbon credit for families that restrict themselves to having only one child. This idea was introduced by Andrew Revkin, and environmental reporter in the New York Times. This action is directed to third world areas mostly in poverty ridden areas such as Africa or India to help encourage the decrease of people.

Morally, the message is to help control the human overcrowding in areas that have less. In these areas birth control and other contraceptives are very expensive and not used as commonly as first world countries. The carbon credit is almost like a bribe to help these unfortunate people prosper and be able to enjoy their lives a little bit better as well as help regulate the number of people produced. People who count morally are the people receiving this carbon credit. Also, the tax payers who are going to be paying to fund this program also count morally.

From a consequentialist’s point of view, the goods that can come out of this action, sees this being a good opportunity for high fertility areas such as Africa to help reduce overpopulation as well as earn some money to help them move on in life. As well, if this action works, other countries may believe it can help them with overpopulation woes and implement this action. A negative consequence of this action is that the amount of money given out may not be justified by only having one child. I mean, some families may want to have more than one child but I guess will have to be ‘bribed’ with more money than the government would want to give them. Depending on the family of course, this could be a problem or it could not.

A non-consequentialist point of view examines the goodness of the act itself. The act here, applying the carbon credit, can be seen as an ethically correct act that can benefit the world and environment. Although the consequences for this may be only slightly negative, they are not dwelled upon.

In conclusion, either view has different ethical aspects that are pointed out in the article. In the long term the effects of this policy could have a positive affect on the environment and that it would be supported by the areas that it would be applied.


Blog #6

Britain’s got Torment

In this day and age it is difficult enough to find those who agree with China’s One Child Policy let alone wish to replicate it in their own country, but Alex Renton seems more than prepared to join this potential ethical dilemma. In the article “Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet” the author, Alex Renton, argues for the One Child Policy and claims that it would also be beneficial for Britain to implicate. Although Renton may believe such a strict policy is necessary, there are many ethical issues surrounding his argument. For instance, Renton must consider: who counts morally, if the policy would create the maximum amount of happiness for the majority of people, and if it is morally acceptable to deny any human being the right to have children. China’s One Child Policy raises many questions related to ethics and If Alex Renton is arguing for the policy there are many moral issues to be discussed.

The first ethical dimension to be explored will be the demarcation problem. In the article it seems like Renton does not believe that children count morally. When Renton states: “Could children perhaps become part of an adult's personal carbon allowance?”(Renton, 2009) it may cause some to believe that he is not concerned about the moral value of children, and may simply see them as property of their parents. Some people believe that children count morally, and the fact that Renton does not seem to agree with this causes ethical issues. Who counts morally is not the only issue in this article, the total happiness of the world must also be evaluated.

The consequentialist’s view is another aspect of ethics that shouldn’t be ignored. From a consequentialist’s viewpoint, such as utilitarianism, China’s One Child Policy is a very good way of lowering the world’s population. Although the policy causes some people in China to be upset because they cannot have as large of families as they want, it brings much more happiness to the rest of the world because the population of China is becoming less overpopulated. In the article, Alex Renton Claims: “Yet China now has 300-400 million fewer people. It was certainly the most successful governmental attempt to preserve the world's resources so far.”(Renton, 2009) This proves that the population is going down and therefore preserving the world’s resources which will increase happiness.

The last portion of ethics to investigate is the non-consequentialist’s view of the One Child Policy. A non-consequentialist would believe that every life is important, and that everyone’s happiness should be considered equally. In relation to the One Child Policy, a non-consequentialist would disagree with causing anyone to be unhappy by limiting the number of children they can have, even if it would cause many others to be happy. Therefore Renton’s statement: “After all, based on current emissions and life expectancy, one less British child would permit some 30 women in sub-Saharan Africa to have a baby and still leave the planet a cleaner place.”(Renton, 2009) would cause ethical issues because the would-be parents of the British child would be unhappy because they were not allowed to have the child.

In Conclusion, there are many different ethical dimensions in the article, “Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet” by Alex Renton. The demarcation problem is one area of ethical issues that Renton must consider when arguing for China’s One Child Policy, but from a consequentialist’s viewpoint Renton is making the right decision already. However, for a non-consequentialist, the One Child Policy is not right, and limiting anyone’s family size is not justified by other people’s happiness. I believe that it is not right to force families to stop having children, and that instead there should be initiatives to have fewer children. It is instinctive for humans to want to have children and to take the most basic right of any creature away from someone is very extreme. I do believe that overpopulation is an important issue, but there are other ways of controlling population size that are less anti-instinctive.


Renton, Alex. “Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet” The Observer October 25, 2009. Accessed: November 2, 2009.

Has China's One-Child Policy Worked?

The ethical debate of the one child policy in China has been going on since the policy was created about 30 years ago. In Michael Bristow’s article “Has China's one-child policy worked?” he describes the situation surrounding the problem and states that China is going to run into problems in the future if they continue with their one child policy.

With regards to demarcation in this instance it is clear that human lives are valued, but do the unborn children of the woman that are forced to abort count morally? Different ethical theories differ on this topic but most believe that they do count morally, thus agreeing with the author that the one child policy needs to be ended. But some believe that children and fetus’s do not count morally because they are not self aware, these people would not have a problem with abortions and contrast the author claim.

From a utilitarian’s point of view the way to get the most aggregate happiness is from having the one child policy, thus lowing overpopulation and leaving a healthier earth for the rest of us to live in. So although the overall happiness has increased the average happiness in China is considerably lower. The hedonistic happiness is lowered if you believe that fetus’s feel pain, and the happiness of the would be parents is lowed because they can’t have as many children as they would like. There is a considerable decrease in the preference happiness because about 400 million births have been prevented (Bristow 2007) with the policy and all these children would have had a potential to achieve their desires and goals. In Bristow’s argument he does not seem to address the issue from a utilitarian point of view because his conclusion differs from its solution.

Non consequentialist believe issues should be debated by considering the moral right and wrongs of a situation instead of about the positive or negative consequences like the utilitarian point of view. In this case it is against people’s rights to dictate how many children they can have. People should have the freedom to make their own decisions about their lifestyles and family even if it is aiding the planet and their country as a whole. This is not a given right but an implied one. Forced abortions can also be seen as morally unacceptable for many people and religions making this aspect a very controversial issue. So from a noncosequentialist point of view the one child policy should be rejected.

There are many different sides to problems surrounding overpopulation and the one child policy in China can be examined from the point of view of various theories. From a demarcation and consequentalists point of view it is the right thing to enforce and from a nonconsequentialist point of view it is the wrong choice. I believe that strictly from an ethics, not economical point of view, that the one child policy is necessary. The population in china was growing at an alarming rate and something needed to be done to decrease the birth rate even though it interferes with the individuals rights.

Bristow, M. (2007, September 20). Has China's one-child policy worked?. Retrieved from

China Not So Sensitive

In an overpopulated nation that has 1.6 billion people living in it, an advertisement for a quick and painless abortion is far from uncommon. China has a much higher population than any other country in the world. Abortion is widely accepted there, as it is seen as a way to reduce the strain of such a high population. However, there are many ethical issues surrounding the morality of unborn fetuses and abortion. In the article “Combating overpopulation…with Korea Style No Hurt 3-Minute Abortion” the author, Ben Ross, states that abortion in China “is not nearly as sensitive as it is in the Bible Belt of North America” (2007). Ross believes that we make abortion a bigger deal then it really is. The main issue is a demarcation problem to determine at what point does a fetus gains moral value rather then just being a ball of growing cells. The true conflict between different ethical views can be seen when the problem is examined through a consequentialist (utilitarian) and a non-consequentialist (deontologist) perspective. After close examination it is easily seen where Chinese society stands in regards to abortion.

The demarcation point is where you draw the line between science and morals. This is extremely complicated in regards to abortion. This is because different people have different definitions of when a fetus becomes a being, with rights of life. Some consider the point when the baby is conceived, while other believe it receives the right of life when it takes its first breathe. No matter which point in time a person believes it is morally wrong to kill an unborn fetus, there is always a strong argument against them: However in China they for the most part they accept that “Abortion…is not a controversial issue, nor is it a highly debated topic” (2007). They believe that abortion is morally ok, in order for their society to prosper; to the point that they advertise abortion on billboards.

A consequentialist is a person who looks at the consequences of their action rather than the action itself. An action could be frowned upon, but as long as the action leads you to the betterment of society then action is worth doing. This can be seen on Chinese society’s views on contraception:

“China just may be the most “pro-choice” country in the world, as abortion is not only 100% legal and unrestricted, but based on these advertisements, I’m assuming it’s not too difficult to get one either. Contraception is easily attainable as well. Condoms are sold at convenience stores, sex shops, and random dispensers in public places and birth control pills can be purchased for around 20 RMB (approx $1.60 USD) per month at any pharmacy, without a prescription.” (2007)

The society as a whole takes a consequentialist view; they see that the consequences of their actions will help them keep their population from growing further, and having even worse repercussions on the environment. Another view related to consequentialist is utilitarianism. A utilitarian believes people’s happiness is the most important thing to consider when planning your actions. An action is considered ethically correct if it benefits the majority of people. There are many benefits provided by safe and legal abortions. They allow women the freedom to live without the burden of a child they are not ready for, and they prevent children from being put up for adoption. “One reason behind the government’s stance on contraception and abortion is that China simply has too many people. Restricting abortions would make the problem even worse. While official estimates set the population at just over 1.3 billion, it is widely accepted that the actual population may be as high as 1.6 billion” (2007). The government believes that their people will be happier with this method of keeping the population at bay. Countries with dense populations are more susceptible to infectious diseases due to close living quarters, and also require an extremely large amount of effort to provide food, water and other necessities to everybody. If the strained large populations are reduced, many people will benefit and be happy because these negative effects will also be reduced. Therefore from a utilitarian perspective, on abortion is justified.

The opposing view to consequentialist is non-consequentialist; they believe is examining the action rather than only looking at the outcome. A non-consequentialist would view abortion as a terrible act because they look at the action of killing the unborn baby as a bad thing, even though the benefits outweigh the negatives. Here in North America “most public advertisements for abortion usually involved a yard full of crosses each representing a child who had been “murdered,” as a result of abortion” (2007). This is because in North America majority of people see abortion as murder, they look at the action rather than the outcome. The reason for this is because, the population crisis is virtually non-existent to an extent, and we have plenty of room, which is why our immigration rate is so high. Connected to non-consequentialism are deontologists who determine goodness and righteousness through a person’s actions. Abortion would never be accepted by a deontologist. They see the action of killing and reject the action immediately.

Unlike China, North Americans would not see the benefits, and would take a non-consequentialist view on abortion.It can be seen that different people will interpret situations differently, around the world. In China views on abortion are accepted, because of the extremely high population, while in North America it is highly frowned upon. Abortion can be looked at from many angles, and it can be debated a number of ways. At one side you look at the action of killing an unborn baby, while on the other hand you are aiding, in keeping an already exploding population under control. The question for the reader is: Do you look at the initial actions or the benefits at the end?

Ross, B. (2007, March 06). Combating overpopulation…with korea style no hurt 3-minute abortion. Retrieved from