The Population Question

Over the last ten years, I have attended many public meetings centred on the topic of Climate Change. In my experience, at any one event there will usually be (a) the town madhatter (well-loved, but completely batty), (b) a court jester (the only person in the room who finds the court jester witty) and (c) somebody who deliberately asks or poses what I call “the population question”.

The basic premise of this question is – since the world’s population is rising exponentially, we’re not going to be able to prevent Climate Change unless we force the people in Asia or Africa to stop procreating. Why, already, China’s Greenhouse Gas emissions are already larger than America’s ! And on the back of the diagnosis that the population explosion will ruin our chances of Climate stability, the logical conclusion is that it is pointless for people in the Western industrialised countries to reduce their energy and fuel use, as our emissions aren’t very significant compared to those of Asia.

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Anthony Giddens : Demonising Environmentalism

The further I read into Anthony Giddens’ “landmark study” on Climate Change politics, the more I want to offer it to a fuel-poor elderly neighbour :-

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/807821-pensioners-burn-books-for-warmth

“Miles Erwin – 5th January, 2010 : Pensioners burn books for warmth : Hard-up pensioners have resorted to buying books from charity shops and burning them to keep warm. Volunteers have reported that ‘a large number’ of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves…”

I have taken a fat orange highlighter pen to his more tendentious and incensing statements, and am scratching comments in the margins to indicate my extreme displeasure.

What is it about Anthony Giddens’ phraseology that so irritates me ? I’ll pass over the more nebulous, inaccurate rubbish like his mention of “political scientists” – politics is no more science than the study of fine art. And I’ll try really hard not to call him ideologically-challenged, based on his references to unproven economic theories as if they were axiomatic facts.

My key dislike to his approach seems to be crystallising around his dismissiveness of other peoples’ points of view; his loose, callous talk is likely to alienate a good many people, and he needs repudiation.

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