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 Varsity.ca. November 19, 2009. Accessed: November 22, 2009. http://thevarsity.ca/articles/23061