Climate Change and The Size of our U.S. Population: Any Connection?

Does the size of our population have any effect at all on the amount of our greenhouse gas emissions? Of course it does. The question answers itself. How could it be otherwise? Other things being equal (e.g. per capita emissions) a U.S. population of 400 million would emit twice the amount of CO2 as a population of 200 million.

Not to belabor the point, emissions per capita multiplied by the number of per capitas (population size) equals total emissions. That is irrefutable. That is simple arithmetic. That is third grade stuff. Why then is it universally ignored?

Very probably because to recognize it would call into question the long term viability of macro-economic growth, the world’s great secular religion, which requires unending population growth. Never mind that material growth in a world of limits cannot possibly continue indefinitely, and, if persisted in, will eventually result in universal poverty, the exact opposite of its stated goal.

The point is that our federal government acts as though it is not true that, if per capita emissions are the same, our population size is the principal determinant of the size of our greenhouse gas emissions. It manages to look the other way and pretend that what is perfectly obvious is not true! It is glaringly obvious that the size of our population, all other things being equal, is the principal determinant of the size of our emissions of CO2. That fact is simply ignored by our political leaders, and swept under the rug.

Is it possible to smoke out our political leaders and make them face up to the facts? How about inviting them to a debate? The subject of the debate would be: “The Size of our Population Has Absolutely No Effect on the Amount of Our CO2 Emissions.” Unfortunately such a debate could never take place because how could we possibly find anyone who would be willing to argue the affirmative? He or she who might attempt it would be laughed off the stage and live in infamy and disgrace from that moment on. Nevertheless, that is the unspoken and disastrous and incomprehensible position that our federal government has taken, even though not overtly.

Beyond any question our country is already greatly overpopulated in terms of the long range carrying capacity of its environment and resources. The scale of our economy is already far too large to be sustainable over the long run, and therefore needs first to be reduced and then maintained at a sustainable level, far smaller than it is today.

Such a reduction in the scale of our economy could only be achieved by a substantial reduction in the size of our population, so that after an interim period of negative growth we could eventually stabilize the size of our population at a sustainable level, far smaller than it is today. Above all we need to reduce massive immigration, the driving force behind the continued and rapid growth of our population. We urgently need a far smaller, not a larger population. Further population growth is the road to ruin, the destruction of our environment, our resources, and our standard of living.

Macro-economic growth must be replaced by the steady state economy. There is no other way to make per capita income, as opposed to GNP, sustainable for the very long term. Macro-economics with its worship of Gross National Product (GNP) and per capita income, are mortal and irreconcilable enemies. If economic growth is allowed to continue, it will eventually destroy the only thing that really counts for each individual, per capita wealth and income.

What we urgently need to do in order to reduce the size of our greenhouse gas emissions is, primarily by limiting immigration, to gradually reduce the size of our population so that it can eventually be stabilized at a sustainable level, far smaller than it is today.

Donald Mann

President of Negative Population Growth, a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to educating Americans about the devastating effects of overpopulation on our environment and quality of life.
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