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Posts Tagged ‘population’

. . . and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, no less.

Commodities and basic resources (like water and good arable land) are in increasingly short supply worldwide, notes the Journal. And while we’ve managed to avoid the wholesale disasters Malthusians have regularly warned against in the two centuries since Thomas Malthus wrote, this time, say authors Justin Lahart, Patrick Barta and Andrew Batson, things could be different.

One issue, they say, is that we already appear to have pushed the earth past a tipping point on climate change. Quoting Dennis Meadows, co-author of the 1970’s classic, “The Limits to Growth,” the article suggests that “environmental catastrophe may be inevitable even ‘if you quit damaging the environment.'”

The threats we currently face may, as in the past, spur technological innovations that enable both human populations and their living standards to keep growing. But unless and until that happens, competition for scarce resources will mean that “violent conflicts could ensue,” the article notes.

It’s interesting to see carbon-tax proponent Joesph Stiglitz quoted so much in the article as an authority and to see that the Journal takes human-caused global warming as, essentially, a fact.

All in all, it’s a clear-eyed look at the global-scale economic and political challenges we face when it comes to the distribution of our most fundamental resources. Although hardly revelatory, its conclusion is still welcome:

Indeed, the true lesson of Thomas Malthus, an English economist who died in 1834, isn’t that the world is doomed, but that preservation of human life requires analysis and then tough action.

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A group of prominent Southern Baptist leaders today declared that their denomination has been ‘too timid’ on the issue of climate change.

The authors take pains to note that they’re not necessarily saying that humans are responsible for Global Warming. But they do make the following observation:

“There is undeniable evidence that the earth—wildlife, water, land and air—can be damaged by human activity, and that people suffer as a result.”

We EarthQuakers might have added that it’s not just people who suffer as a result (we’re thinking of the phrase, ‘all God’s creatures’ and adding His plants as well), but we’re glad to see these Southern Baptists following the essential logical of their professed Christian beliefs.

After all, even if you believe that human action is not causing global warming, it’s hard to make a Christian argument for pollution. Indeed, if you believe that “creation serves as revelation of God’s presence, majesty and provision,” to quote the declaration, you should be more conservation-minded that just about anyone else.

“Humans Must Care for Creation and Take Responsibility for Our Contributions to Environmental Degradation,” is the first of four ‘statements’ in the declaration. The last states that “It Is Time for Individuals, Churches, Communities and Governments to Act.”

The document isn’t too clear on exactly how that action should be made manifest, though. It does make very clear that it’s unlikely to involve action on population control, for fear that would sanction abortion (although one could imagine a nuanced, yet robust and still-Christian approach to population control that, for example, does nothing to aid abortion but instead looks to provide every family on Earth with enough security that they don’t need to have a large number of children).

But when it comes to concrete action, the declaration’s a little fuzzy. The group pledges to promote “biblical stewardship habits and increasing awareness” in churches, homes and offices. And it will, it promises, henceforth “give serious consideration to responsible policies that acceptably address the conditions set forth in this declaration.” But that’s as far as it goes.

So we at EarthQuaker certainly applaud the sentiment and salute the logical theological analysis in this declaration. And we recognize that just the fact of it being stated is both momentous and welcome.

But until this traditionally Republican-leaning denomination starts to push back, hard and en masse, and in very specific ways against the many, equally-specific environmentally-destructive actions of Republican-run agencies such as the EPA, we’ll hold off on singing our own loud choruses of Laus Deo!

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The Guardian’s George Monbiot draws attention today to the discomfort that many environmentalists feel when it comes to discussing global population growth. Responses to the article take him to task for positing a false dichotomy between population and consumption, but both the article and the comments are worth a look.

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