Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Guest blog #28: Scott Wagnon's thoughts on population

(My last post generated a lot of activity on Facebook.  I also received an email from my labmate Scott Wagnon, whose detailed response to the post is below as a guest blog post.)
I feel as if Darshan downplayed the role population plays on environmental issues.  Where I wholeheartedly disagree with the unnamed professor (and I know Darshan does, too) is that race is a factor in the interconnection between the environment and population.  Environmental impact is something that is caused and felt by all age, race, gender and socioeconomic demographics.  I know and recognize that certain slices of the demographic pie contribute and/or are impacted more significantly than other slices, as Darshan mentioned in his post.  
From any perspective, it is just and right to advocate on behalf of people whose rights have been impacted, whose voice cannot reach a broad audience, or whose voice may not have the same impact as ourselves as wealthy, "educated" people.  But the simple fact remains that we--all of humanity--cannot have tens of billions of people consuming a few resources, as much as we--all of humanity-- cannot have a few people consuming tens of billions of resources.  Population control via family planning through various birth control options, abstinence, and education (see Darshan's post on the "entitlement" of having children, and the short discussion generated); increases in efficiency; and reduced consumption of resources are three equally important ways to reduce the impact of the choices we make.    
Those of us, such as Darshan and myself and likely you, who have been empowered with the means to make and enact such choices, should especially look at every aspect.  As Darshan pointed out in his post, wealthy, "educated" people--us--often consume the most.  (On a side note, I use "educated" because I wonder how smart we really are based on certain decisions that we make as a society... having to look no further than our collective treatment of the environment.)  If we--the large consumers, including myself :/--choose not to have large families, use less resources, and use resources more efficiently, we're fostering a culture where the environment is valued not as a commodity, but as something for all of humanity to enjoy.  We live in a finite world, so barring our expansion beyond this beautiful planet, all of humanity must always remain mindful that Earth can only sustain a finite population at even the smallest necessary levels of resource consumption.  We are all effectively one family altering our common home, for better or worse, through the choices we make.  I hope we all continue to make better choices.
~Scott Wagnon

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