Here’s a thought many of us find uncomfortable. When we tally up the ways our individual behaviour increases carbon emissions – flying, driving, eating animal products – there’s one thing we should put at the top of the list: having babies. Each time you do that, you effectively create another lifetime’s worth of pollution. On one estimate, the average US woman increases GHG emissions by 5.7 times her own lifetime average by having a child. Continue reading
Political Theory Research Group series 2016/17: 12 October
Source: Vinoth Chandar (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
This week we had the pleasure of discussing Dr Elizabeth Cripps’ paper, which introduced the idea of a “green parenting duty” as a requirement of climate justice and of respecting one’s child as a future moral agent. The work is to be presented later this month at the Aristotelian Society.
Those of us who care about global justice and climate justice need to take human population growth seriously. Or so I argued in the first instalment of this two-part blog. On current population forecasts, our grandchildren or great-grandchildren might have to decide between basic rights for their own generation and protecting future generations from climate change. We owe it to them not to bequeath this tragic choice. However, it is also morally crucial to address population in the context of concerted efforts to tackle both global injustice and climate change, not as a standalone problem.
Do we need to talk about population and justice? Climate change, as terrifying a threat to future generations as you could find, is partly the result of growing human numbers, along with consumption and the lack of sufficient technology to turn one planet into the 1.6 we’re pretending we have. That’s just the IPAT equation: Environmental Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology. Moreover, those human numbers – 7.3bn in 2015 – are predicted to go a long way up before stabilising: to 9.7bn by 2050, and 11.2bn by 2100.
Climate justice campaigners, Copenhagen 2009. Photo: lightsinmotion, Creative Commons