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.
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 Varsity.ca: http://thevarsity.ca/articles/23061