In June, 2011 Al Gore spoke at the 8th Annual Games for Change Conference at New York Univeristy. The discussion turned to climate change and education and Gore suggested that empowering women may be beneficial to societies and the planet:
“You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children to have, the spacing of the children. You have to lift child-survival rates so that parents feel comfortable having small families. And most important, you have to educate girls and empower women. And that’s the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices.”
These seemingly innocuous remarks — it’s not much of a leap from education and better healthcare to smaller, stronger families producing less carbon emissions — turned into a frenzy of right wing fear and hate. The 60-second video of Gore, shot by blogger Brian Merchant (http://utopianist.com/), was picked up by Watts Up With That (a popular global warming skeptic blog) Infowars (conspiracy theory blog), Examiner.com, the Blaze, Fox Nation Blog and the Daily Caller.
Billy Hallowell from the Blaze wrote: “Curiously, Gore said that couples need to learn to “feel comfortable having small families” so that pollution can be curbed.”
Curious indeed to suggest that we should improve child-survival rates so that couples can have the peace of mind of knowing their child will live to adulthood, as opposed to having multiple children to better their chances that one of them will make it to maturity! Shame on you Al Gore!
From Gore’s remarks, Joe Newby from the Spokane Conservative Examiner concluded: “The sad truth is that environmentalists hate people – not just any specific group or individual – just people in general.”
Hmm. Yes the hatred is evident. Girls educated? Women empowered? Children surviving? Clearly Gore is set on the annihilation of the human race.
Anthony Watts (Watts Up With That) writes: “Not content to make a fool of himself confusing weather and climate, Al has now decided to lecture empower women on how to reduce the population for the benefit of the planet.”
Gore isn’t content to join the 84% of scientists (“fools”) that believe that human activity contributes to global warming; he also wants women to be able to choose how many children to have and the spacing of their children. Him and his lectures!
The fact is that world population is expected to pass 7 billion this year (2010 Revision of the World Population Prospects). And overpopulation is putting a huge burden on our resources. As it is, nearly a billion people don’t have enough to eat (1), one quarter of our marine fish stocks are over harvested (2), and 20% of the world’s cropland is degraded (3).
According to the National Academy of Sciences, U.S. topsoil is being eroded at least 10 times faster than its replacement rate. Pressure on our food supply has led to a chemically-intensive agricultural system that pollutes our air and water and poisons other species. By 2025, 2.8 billion people will be living in areas facing water stress or scarcity. Thirty-six U.S. states are anticipating water shortages within the next 10 years (4). And demand for freshwater is supposed to increase by 85% over the next half century (5). These issues are all in addition to the threat from climate change.
We need more people like Gore making the connection between population and environmental degradation. We need more people making the connection between a stable population and the opportunities, health, and well-being of every one on this planet. Gore’s call to expand education, empower women with reproductive choice, and improve the health of children is a no-brainer. We need more people living fulfilling lives not just more people living.
For more information on how population impacts the environment please visit HowMany.org
Brown, Lester. “Food: Will There be enough?” A Pivotal Moment. Ed. Laurie Mazur. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2010. 166-178. Print. (1)(3)
Gaffikin, Lynne. “Population Growth, Ecosystem Services, and Human Well-Being.” A Pivotal Moment. Ed. Laurie Mazur. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2010. 124-135. Print.(2)(5)
Sterling, Elaeanor and Erin Vintinner. “How Much is Left? An Overview of the Water Crisis.” A Pivotal Moment. Ed. Laurie Mazur. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2010. 193-204. Print. (4)