Put A Hat On It
Turns out putting on a condom is good for the planet AND the economy.
Economists from Brown University studied how a decrease in birthrates could influence carbon emissions and income per capita. Conventional wisdom suggests that fewer babies would reduce both — but their model found otherwise: A 1 percent decrease fertility rates corresponds to a 7 percent increase in income per capita while having a negative impact on carbon emissions.
While the latter part seems obvious — of course fewer humans should result in lower carbon emissions — the finding that slowing population growth could be a boon for the economy is new.
This issue gets into sticky territory pretty quickly: Developed nations already have pretty low birthrates — and are also the world’s largest carbon contributors. How to reconcile the long, dark history of developed (mostly white) nations pushing coercive population control policies on less industrialized (mostly brown) nations? The authors recommend:
There are many policies that may lead to lower fertility, the most obvious of which is the provision of contraceptives … [and] policies that increase incentives for investment in education, for example, can also lead to lower fertility levels.
They also point out that while reducing population could increase economic growth — and quality of living — it’s certainly not a solve-all for climate change. For that, we still need clean energy.