Letter to the Editor: The Guardian
PMC has pasted the text of a letter to the editor by PMC’s Joe Bish and Center for Biological Diversity’s Stephanie Feldstein. See the original here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/22/human-ponzi-scheme-of-population-growth-cant-go-on-for-ever
George Monbiot (There’s a population crisis all right. But probably not the one you’re thinking of, 20 November) is right to point out the devastating impacts of expanding livestock operations around the world. Yet, in dismissing the relationship between human population and climate, he contravenes the IPCC’s November 2014 report for policymakers, which states “Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever.”
Monbiot presents an outdated “either-or” approach to sustainability, where wiser dietary choices must supersede slowing down and stopping rapid human population growth as an environmental priority. This is a needless and false choice. Meat production is intricately tied to global population – in fact, the industry’s justification for increasing the number of livestock on the planet is to feed the growing number of people.
To avoid catastrophic climate change, we need a “both-and” approach, where intergenerational and sustained efforts to progressively slow down global population trajectories occur alongside efforts to promote diets with more plant-based foods and drastically reduce meat production. Human-rights-enhancing efforts to ensure women have reproductive autonomy and gender equity, and committed activism to healthier, sustainable food systems, are not in moral conflict.
Director of issue advocacy, Population Media Center
Population and sustainability director, Center for Biological Diversity