Monday, July 13, 2009

If there were a simple answer ....

Originally uploaded by jackol.
A few months ago, when folks were starting to fuss about climate change and overpopulation causing water wars, I read in quite a lot of places that areas that historically have little water tend to use it peacefully, and the world would adapt.

But this, in The Guardian:

It was a little after 8pm when the water started flowing through the pipe running beneath the dirt streets of Bhopal's Sanjay Nagar slum. After days without a drop of water, the Malviya family were the first to reach the hole they had drilled in the pipe, filling what containers they had as quickly as they could. Within minutes, three of them were dead, hacked to death by angry neighbours who accused them of stealing water.

I think we can slow, but not stop climate change, and doing so won't be enough to prevent real suffering. Controlling population will help, but how? We have to almost stop. Otherwise, it will get much worse before it gets better.

So far, I'm not one of those people who believe that technology will help us cope with 10 billion people on the planet, or 15 billion people. Or rather, technology will help, but it certainly won't make it better, just perhaps not as horrible as it could become.

And deep down, I don't think it's ethical or good public policy to enforce family size or procreation. (Look at China: Too many boys, second children -- or first, if girls -- given to orphanages, and rural/poor people still having extra children. "One Child" is controlling the population, but at what cost? And how can we compare that usefully to what Asia would be like now otherwise?)

I get fussy about countries like Japan and Norway complaining about low birthrate and encouraging people to have more babies so there will be someone around whose taxes can care for an aging population. I got downright grotty at Australia's John Howard, who encouraged Australians to have more babies even as the country was running out of water. But then what do they do to keep the population balanced?

I'd say they should be encouraged to adopt from poorer parts of the world -- but that way has led, in the past, to tragic exploitation. I'd say they should encourage families with young children to immigrate from areas that are more bottom-heavy in the age demographic department but then who supports these families as their children are educated and enculturated in the new country, as they move toward long-term residency, citizenship, and tax-paying status? And how do you get past the historically xenophobic practices in some of these developed countries?

I don't feel like I can write about this logically, but I'd like to somehow.

If there were a simple answer, we'd be implementing it right now. No?

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