Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Oregon State social science professors, we need harsh carbon taxes to force a global convergence of per-capita carbon emissions. Most of the sacrifices will have to be made by the rich.
Socially just population policies can mitigate climate change and advance global equity
by Oregon State University
APRIL 28, 2021
Socially just policies aimed at limiting the Earth’s human population hold tremendous potential for advancing equity while simultaneously helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, Oregon State University researchers say.
“There are strong links between high rates of population growth and ecosystem impacts in developing countries connected to water and food security,” he said. “Given the challenges of food and water security, effective population policies can support achieving both social justice and climate adaptation, particularly when you consider the current and projected uneven geographical distribution of the impacts of climate change. Policies that address health and education can greatly reduce fertility rates.”
“Three examples of countries in which improved education for girls and young women may have contributed to significant fertility rate declines are Ethiopia, Indonesia and Kenya,” Ripple says. “Among those nations, specific education reforms included instituting classes in local languages, increasing budgets for education and removing fees for attending school. Ethiopia also implemented a school lunch program, large-scale school construction took place in Indonesia, and primary school was lengthened by one year in Kenya.”
“From both climate and social justice perspectives, affluent overconsumption by the wealthy must be addressed immediately, for example through policies like eco-taxes such as carbon pricing,” Ripple added. “Reducing fertility rates alone is clearly not enough. The middle class and rich must be responsible for most of the needed reduction in emissions.”
Taking steps to stabilize and then gradually reduce total human numbers within a socially just framework enhances human rights and reduces the further ordeals of migration, displacement and conflict expected in this century, Wolf and Ripple say. One potential framework is contraction and convergence, which calls for simultaneously reducing net emissions (contraction) while equalizing per capita emissions (convergence). This is equitable in the sense that it entails equalizing per capita emissions globally, a stark contrast to current patterns.
What a miserable vision for the future. Even the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin never attempted to create an economy this tightly controlled. And of course, just as in Soviet times, the elite would need special dispensation for extra emissions, so they could fly around, attend their conferences, and perform their good works.
Frankly I’d rather keep my freedom, and take my chances with a few climate driven superstorms, in the the unlikely event any noticeable deterioration of the world’s weather actually happens, than endure the authoritarian nightmare Oregon State University apparently wants to inflict on the world.