The UN’s feminist Malthusianism

In: Uncategorized

19 Nov 2009

The new State of the World’s Population report from the United Nations Population Fund takes what could be called a Malthusian-feminist approach to climate change. First, it assumes there is some kind of relationship between population numbers and carbon emissions. Second, it argues that “women’s empowerment”, encouraging women to have fewer children, is the solution to the problem.

It is wrong on both scores. There is no correlation between population numbers and carbon emissions. Rich countries tend to have far higher carbon emissions per head than poorer ones. However, there are also big differences between rich countries depending on the extent to which the energy supply is decarbonised. As for women, putting pressure on them to have fewer children is the antithesis of free choice. To be truly free they should be able to choose to have more or fewer children.

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