Dr Philip Cafaro, who teaches on environmental philosophy and ethics at Colorado State University, has recently written a paper arguing that not just halting but actually reducing the number of people alive may well be necessary to stop global warming:
Ending human population growth is almost certainly a necessary (but not sufﬁcient) condition for preventing catastrophic global climate change. Indeed, signiﬁcantly reducing current human numbers may be necessary in order to do so.
Dr Cafaro goes on to argue that the threat of global warming means that any policy other than one which “significantly supports reducing the size of the current human population” simply cannot “pass ethical muster”. Therefore:
We should support policies that limit human numbers, not just in the poor countries that are conventionally understood to be overpopulated, but in rich ones, where each additional person generates
much larger amounts of greenhouse gases
Dr Cafaro, perhaps a little paradoxically, portrays this as actually protecting people’s rights. Such is the threat posed by global warming, apparently, that not only having children must be curtailed, but also buying stuff and consuming as well:
In order to protect the human rights to life, health and subsistence
in the crowded world we have created, we must limit excessive consumption and excessive procreation. Both steps are necessary, since one without the other cannot solve the problem of growing emissions and rising temperatures
So, it seems that according to Dr Cafaro, as well as “significantly reducing current human numbers” global warming also means that we can no longer be free to buy the car, TV, or computer we want. We have to limit such “excessive consumption” as well as our children. And not just people in the West, but also those irresponsible breeders in non-Western nations. As Dr Cafaro explains for our benefit:
Another way to put this point is that people who are overprocreating, wherever they live, are threatening the human rights of future people. In Bangladesh and Niger, overprocreators are creating people who are likely to suffer from extreme weather events, droughts, and lack of food in the decades to come
Damn those selfish overprocreators! If only we could somehow reduce their numbers, ey? Dr Cafaro is so concerned about them he has written anti-immigration papers like “The Environmental Argument for Reducing Immigration to the United States” which is available on the website of the Center for Immigration Studies. Well, we wouldn’t want “the human rights of future people” (i.e. people who don’t actually exist) to be threatened do we? Much better to significantly constrain our rights to buy what we want, eat what we want and have the number of children we want now than to possibly infringe on the sacred rights of the future people which Dr Cafaro and other environmental ethics professors are concerned about.