mercoledì 12 aprile 2017
Energia e popolazione. Perché non credo alla decrescita solo economica
Nel gruppo di discussione fb di Assisi Nature Council è stato pubblicato un post sul tema della sovrappopolazione a cura di M.L. Cohen a proposito di un articolo del World Population Balance (presieduta da Dave Paxson) in cui vengono affrontati questioni riguardanti il significato di termini "Overshoot" "Overpopulation" e "Growth" e quali sono i problemi che oggi si debbono affrontare da parte di chi ha coscienza del problema e intende agire per la salvezza del pianeta. A questo scopo si confrontano le visioni di chi vuole la decrescita (in tutte le sue accezione e varianti), chi si limita agli aspetti economici e della produzione, chi valuta la sostenibilità dal punto di vista energetico e del consumo eccessivo di idrocarburi, chi vede il problema solo nella dualità uguaglianza-disuguaglianza, chi considera rilevante la giustizia internazionale, i diritti e l'accesso alle risorse, chi invece vuole intervenire direttamente sulla natalità considerando cruciale un numero di abitanti del pianeta che sia sostenibile, sia in termini ambientali che al fine della sopravvivenza delle altre specie viventi. Nei commenti sono intervenuti Maria Luisa Cohen e Bill Everett oltre al conduttore di questo blog. Riporto l'articolo del World Population Balance nella presentazione di M.L.Cohen e la mia replica ad alcuni dei commenti pubblicati (testi in inglese). We received and print it : Dave Paxson, President of World Population Balance, recently sent in the following essay, of which he is a co-author. In the work, Dave and his colleagues make a case around what they believe to be appropriate messaging when dealing with the population issue. Through my reading of the piece, it seems they believe strongly that both the term and the concept of "overpopulation" need to take precedence in the minds, programs and public relations materials of those involved in the work of population and population-related advocacy. That said, I know Dave and his team would welcome any feedback on the essay based on your own reading of the material. Please feel free to send me your comments, which I will happily pass through to him. Alternatively, there is an email address at the end of this PMC Daily which you can use to contact World Population Balance. Regarding Population Messaging, Exactly What's the Problem: Growth or Overpopulation? by David Paxson and co-authors, Alan Ware, Karen Shragg and Carolyn VandenDolder Do you believe the Earth's resources can support 7-10 billion people -- sustainably, long term? If you answered "yes" to this question, please go find something else to read. We need to have the below conversation with people who already understand that the world is overpopulated relative to many of the planet's declining vital resources, and this overpopulation is also a major driver of the killing of species, increasing dire poverty and other global crises. If you answered "no" to the question and believe the overpopulation issue is real, then please read on. And do join us in an upstream conversation -- about stopping overpopulation -- rather than downstream talk about stopping the growth. This upstream conversation is absolutely vital to the future viability and health of humanity and all other living things on the planet. Much of the messaging coming from population organizations lacks clarity -- both about the problem and what it will take to humanely solve the problem. Before people will take effective action on any issue, they need crystal clear messaging and direction about both of these aspects. Sustainable Global Population Increasing numbers of resource experts put truly sustainable global population in a range between 300 million and four billion, depending on assumptions they make about living standards. As far back as 1994 David Pimentel set sustainable population in the range of two billion people, living at a level of consumption equivalent to Western Europe. (Pimentel, David. and R. Harman. Natural Resources and an Optimum Human Population. Population and Environment. 15. (1994): 347-369) He also estimated the sustainable U.S. population to be 200 million. Global Footprint Network data shows that the Earth's sustainable population is in the range of 2.5 billion, assuming an average European level of consumption. Asset manager and economic bubble expert, Jeremy Grantham, founder of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (which manages over $100 billion in assets) and The Grantham Foundation for the Environment, has determined that sustainable population ranges between four billion (Charlie Rose Show; March 11, 2013) and possibly as low as 300 million (Accounting for Sustainability Forum, St. James's Palace, London: December 11, 2011). While the above range is wide, it is significantly below the current 7.1 billion. Amazing Learning Experience In all of our talks and media interviews, we have been clearly stating that many of the declining vital resources of the planet can sustainably support only about two billion people -- at an average European level of consumption. We have been pleased by the positive acceptance of this realistic 2 billion figure from all but a few people. At a talk last summer I had an amazing learning experience with a college student. After speaking to Olee's class, she explained that she was born in an Asian refugee camp thirty years ago. She came to the U.S. when she was a year old. Married for a couple of years, she had a darling nine month old daughter. After several questions she asked: "Why are you saying it is important that we have only one child? Why not two?" It was obvious that she loved having a baby and was eagerly looking forward to having another. I went to the board to explain why we need average birth rates down close to one child per couple. Before I could figure out how to answer, she said, "I get it! . . . We have waited too long!" She was absolutely right. We have waited too long. We have kicked the can -- of population reduction -- down the road for decades. Deeper Realizations A few days later I was recalling our conversation and pondering the "Stop at Two" slogan that was popular in the '70s. It quickly dawned on me that -- assuming sustainable, long-term global population is only in the 2 billion range -- the "Stop at Two" slogan of those days was not close to being a winning slogan, or goal, even at that time. Since world population was already some 3.5 billion, even if we had reduced births to a two-child average, that would not have helped us decline to two billion. Then I began to think about this question: Assuming our ancestors had understood that two billion people was the truly sustainable global level, when would they have needed to promote a two child average in order to have a "soft landing" at two billion people on the planet? The answer to that is probably between 1870-1890 when population was approaching 1.5 billion. Only in that way would humanity have avoided overshooting above the two billion range. Our Task It is critical that we population leaders do the right thing in our messaging about this global over-population crisis. Many of the current messages that obfuscate the truth are only adding to people's paralysis, confusion, argument and inaction. We must create a new, informed, cultural norm. We must speak this truth: "The world and nation are overpopulated. Therefore, it is crucial that couples are encouraged to voluntarily choose to have only one child." Without "over-population/one-child" messaging, humanely reaching a 1-4 billion global -- and 150-200 million U.S. -- population is impossible. With one-child messaging, we will begin heading in the right direction. Will we humanely get to the top of that mountain? Maybe not. But if we don't head in that direction, we know we won't, for certain! As Gandhi put it, our task is to do the right thing: "It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result." -- M.K Gandhi David Paxson, President; Alan Ware, Senior Research Fellow; Karen Shragg, Advisory Board Member; Carolyn VandenDolder, Secretary to the Board; World Population Balance
Joseph J. Bish
Population Outreach Manager
Population Media Center
145 Pine Haven Shores Road, Suite 2011
P.O. Box 547
Shelburne, Vermont 05482-0547
Il mio intervento nei commenti:
Dear Maria Luisa let me express a very different opinion than the opinion of mainstream environmentalists.
I believe that the main problem of the planet, one that puts at stake its survival, is the excessive growth of the human population, rather than being inequality nor the consumption of oil and other hydrocarbons.
Inequality is part of biology and economics is used to stimulate human creativity. To believe that inequality is at the root of overshoot and environmental catastrophe is to me simply a nonsense (or a way to get back through the window that communism had been kicked by people who had suffered).
For those who believe that excessive consumption of hydrocarbon energy is the cause of overshoot can tell you that it is true that the use of oil has led to atmospheric warming and pollution, but the overshoot and the population explosion It has causes that go beyond merely increasing the oil consumption. The oil and coal led to increased production which led to higher consumption, more food and population. However, the large supply of energy of these last hundred years has also led to more technology, more scientific discoveries, such as medicines and cures for diseases, as well as the invention of the birth control pills and contraceptive methods. Also more oil gave greater development, the more you earn, the more free time and the opportunity to live well with less children than in the past. Europe and the US have had a developed economy based on hydrocarbons and, at the same time, a decline in population; while areas of the planet most economically backward have birth rates much higher along with less available technology and an overall poorer life.
Ecologists suggest that a drop in consumption and abandonment of energy from hydrocarbons are convinced that they will get in this way a cleaner planet and ecological. I argue the opposite. The abandonment of oil and other hydrocarbons will lead to an increase in energy prices as renewables have lower yields and higher costs. There would be more widespread poverty, less technology, a poor quality of life. The increase in oil prices was behind the economic crisis of the second millennium that has affected Europe, America and China and we are still passing, one of the worst in modern economic history. This is a test of what would happen with the decrease wishing mainstream ecologists. But while the Western economy shoulder the world has not improved anything. indeed environmental problems have worsened and the population continues to grow, generating poverty, migration, war and struggle for resources. The block of Western development aggravates the crisis of the underdeveloped countries instead of promoting development. In conditions of general crisis of economy the African and Asian populations have only one way to survive: have more children and send them as migrants in the West where it is still possible to work and find resources including sending them back to the land of origin for relatives. I argue that only the development in the West ensures the right resources to help poor countries to have enough economy to support their economies with both the trade with aid. It is true that this inequality would be, that I think people who understand the ideology, but is instead more opportunities for poor countries to benefit from aid and technology from developed countries to create their own modern economy. A lower availability of cheap energy would instead be the cause of a crisis of the West and would not help the world's poor. We would all be poorer at a generally lower standard of living and with more and higher birth rates. The slow technology products less suitable to sustain the population. A contrary development in the West means more technology and more resources for poor countries and more development opportunities for them. To this end, it is critical for backward countries a reduction in the birth rate that allows the use of resources for development and not for the existence of starving populations.