Okay, It’s not that I don’t believe in global warming. Human industry has undeniably released untold amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, which would logically increase the Earth’s temperature. What I deny is the severity of the problem, which makes many of the extreme solutions proposed by radical environmentalists unjustified. According to Wikipedia, the average temperature of the Earth's surface increased by 0.74 degrees celsius from 1906 to 2005, give or take 0.18 degrees. I'm less than terrified.
Though there are many extreme ideas for hoe to combat this dubious threat to our species, but what I am most strongly opposed to is the idea of adopting a one or at best two child policy, like what they have in China. Not only would this be a gross violation of our reproductive rights, it ignores the fact that high infertility can be just as problematic as overpopulation (and we’re not overpopulated by the way. Click here for an article by Michael Annisimov about the Earth’s carrying capacity). Lets say a one child policy was enforced world wide with 100% efficiency (I know this would never happen, but it’s just a hypothetical). Each generation would only be half as numerous as the last, so that you’d have a generation of grandparents four times as large as their grandchildren. Having a disproportionably large segment of the population old and infirmed would be an enormous social problem, and as these individuals retired or died off there wouldn’t be enough new blood to replace them, which would be a logistically nightmare. It would be difficult to maintain technological infrastructure under these circumstances, and I would expect any isolated civilization that enforced a one child policy would soon collapse into chaos(note that China is not isolated but part of the now quasi-global civilization). Granted, a two child problem would avoid this problem, but it would still be a violation of our rights. I don’t want a government bureaucrat telling me how many kids I’m allowed. I know all you liberals out there care about the environment, but don’t you also believe that the government should stay out of the bedroom?
A world wide one child policy wouldn’t even make any sense. I, for example, am Canadian, and there are only around thirty million of us, and Canada is the second largest country in the world, right after Russia. Like most other developed nations, Canada already has a fertility rate that is below replacement level, which is one reason why we have the highest per capita immigration rate in the world. A one or two child policy in areas of the world that are A) not overpopulated and B) already have insufficient fertility rates, makes no sense. If we want to reduce the World’s fertility level, all we have to do is raise the status of women and the standard of living in the developing world, and they’ll stop having so many children. As women rights and standards of living increase around the world, the World’s fertility level, which is already dropping, will level off mid-century between nine and ten billion, and then it may even start to drop. When this happens, everyone will panic and think that our species is doomed to extinction, and the government will adopt natalistic policies to try to maintain the population. The Sky is always falling.
Another suggestion from hardcore left-wingers is that we should all go Vegan. That would also help with the population, since many individuals would elect to kill themselves. Although it is possible to be properly nourished from a vegan diet, it is very difficult and many vegans do not do it properly. People who have the lifestyle forced upon them are even less likely to exercise the discipline they need to stay healthy on a vegan diet. The ability to extract certain nutrients and proteins from plants also varies between individuals due to genetics, and some people cannot get enough from plants and must eat meat. An example of this is the enzyme D-6-D, which is necessary for the elongation of essential fatty acids. If you don't have sufficient levels of D-6-D, you can't get enough fatty acids from a vegan diet. A vegan diet on a world wide scale would cause just as many health problems as our current excessive consumption of meat, if not more. Granted they’d be different health problems, but there’d be just as many. Also, if any laws were actually passed against eating meat, the underground meat market would completely dwarf any drug market that has ever existed. Imagine how much money you could make bootlegging meat. The cost of enforcing anti-carnivorous laws would be astronomical. A better solution would just be to slaughter billions of wild animals to compensate for the methane emissions of our livestock.
Since I don’t believe that global warming is as severe as some people claim, I think the earth can endure our carnivorous habits for a few more decades until cultured meat becomes commercially available. I do support a transition from traditional agriculture to vertical farming and cultured meat to reduce our impact on the planet. To all the vegans out there, I promise you I will switch to cultured meat once it is qualitatively and commercially competitive with real meat. I also think it should be called ‘cultured meat’ instead of in vitro meat, or vat grown meat, mainly as a PR thing. Click here for a great article about cultured meat from the H+ website.
I do believe that industries should try to reduce their impact on their environment as much as is feasible, but not at the expense of Human suffering. I am Anthropocentric, and value the lives and well being of my fellow Humans well above that of other species. I am not ashamed of this. Simply being sentient does not make rats our moral equals. Nothing in this Universe is black or white, everything is on a spectrum, a continuum, even personhood. No species on Earth possesses the qualities of personhood (which I won’t get into here) more so than Humans, and therefore no species is worthier of greater moral consideration.
The real issue isn’t so much how many Humans there are, it’s how much each of us consumes. In Brave New World the population is only two billion, and I suspect this is because of their uber-consumerist lifestyle. I’m not too worried about a Malthusian crash, since our ability to support ourselves will continue to increase as technology advances. But at the moment, the World cannot support our current lifestyles indefinitely, especially if they’re adopted by the developing world, so it might be prudent to cut back. I think the best way to accomplish this would be a come back of extended families. Multiple generations living under one roof, sharing their resources so that each of them consumes less. Strong family values would likely have other pro-social benefits as well. No one should have to live in poverty, but garish displays of wealth should be scorned. Drive an electric or hybrid vehicle if you really want to do something, but don’t be smug about. I would hope that by 2020 electric vehicles will be fully competitive with gas powered cars, and this should take a good chunk out of green house gas emissions. And of course; Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.