The debate surrounding Earth’s resources and population growth can often be quite fraught. Some people argue that an ever-growing world population will strain world resources even more, worsening climate change in the process. Others criticise this vision as an attack on the poor (who use less resources per head than the rich) and women who have plenty of children, which suggests some sort of mass planning where permission to breed is required from the state.
In theory, the calculation is a simple one. If technological advances and energy conservation can keep pace with population growth, then the situation is unlikely to get any worse. But whether this will work in practice is impossible to say. That is why it is useful to approach the issue from other angles, just as Kate Smurthwaite has done. Ms. Smurthwaite believes that reducing population growth is a good thing, but doesn’t see the need for state planning and control:
There are millions of women around the world and right here at home who desperately want to have less or no children, to have children later in life and to control their own fertility. Furthermore some of us crazy feminist types actually think it is their right to do so and to be given access to the tools and education to enable them to make those choices in their own lives. We call them reproductive rights.
Free access to and information about contraception – including condoms which also prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs – and abortion are basic rights that every woman should have. All we have to do is provide them.
More education and rights for women is a good thing in itself, and if it helps combat climate change then even better.
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Environmentalism,Sex equality