Jul 20, 2009

Population is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the attic.

The environmental problem the world is loath to address
A quick question: What's the biggest environmental problem facing humanity today. Is it global warming? One would certainly think so judging from the actions of various governments, which are trying to reduce those manmade greenhouse gas emissions we hear so much about. Is it dwindling energy resources, running up against the limits of agricultural technology in feeding the earth's population, or perhaps diminished supplies of fresh water, without which life cannot be sustained?

All of the above are exacerbated by the continued growth in the number of people living on this planet. Overpopulation is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the attic. It is the most disastrous environmental threat we face, yet one whispered about rather carefully since there are no apparent solutions to it that are politically viable.

On May 24, the Times of London reported that some of America's richest people met secretly to consider how their philanthropy could be utilized to slow population growth and speed up improvements in health and education. The story said the gathering included David Rockefeller Jr., Warren Buffett and George Soros, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and media tycoons Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey. The meeting was hush-hush, contrary to the normal trumpeting of gifts to good causes.

According to the report, these people, along with Bill Gates, have given away several tens of billions of dollars in the last 13 years to causes ranging from public health programs in so-called developing countries to ghetto schools closer to home. The secrecy may well have been prompted by the reality that many Third World leaders view contraception and female education as anathema to their societies. One guest reportedly said that a consensus emerged during the meeting that these givers would back "a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat."

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Hat tip OilDrum