The Rio+20 Earth summit is quickly approaching, and attendees are receiving more and more pressure from what the people of the world want to see accomplished. According to 105 of the world’s leading scientific academies, the world must agree on actions toward population and consumption regardless of political taboos or controversy, or it will struggle to tackle climate change.
The academies say Richer, more developed countries must reduce, or at least drastically transform, increasingly unsustainable lifestyles. Larger efforts should also be made to provide contraception to those who want it in developing countries
The authors note that while agreements and policies havve aimed to reduce poverty and environmental degradation, these two key solutions are rarely, if ever, mentioned. These two key solutions could ease the pressure on rare and non-renewable resources.
“For too long population and consumption have been left off the table due to political and ethical sensitivities, said Charles Godfray of the Royal Society. “These are issues that affect developed and developing nations alike, and we must take responsibility for them together.”
A joint statement was also issued by scientists who want to remind world leaders that consumption and population are two key points in determining the rate at which natural resources deplete and the Earth meet demands for food, water, and energy. At the rate we’re going, the numbers are staggering and unsustainable. An increase in human population to 9 billion by 2050 could create severe economic and social issues.
“We are living beyond the planet’s means,” said Gisbet Glaser of the International Council for Science. “That’s scientifically proven.” He added that “we’re now at a point in human history where we risk degrading the life support system for human development.”
Poverty reduction is also a priority of these scientists, but action toward contraceptive use and voluntary family planning must also be addressed. This includes better healthcare, education, and contraceptive options.
I think they’re absolutely right that bringing up these topics seems to be a political taboo, and the topics are often seen as controversial. However, when the welfare of the entire planet is at stake, isn’t it time to suck it up and stop worrying about winning votes or social acceptance? There’s not much else that can be said other than what the scientists have brought to the table, and I’m sure glad they have. Now it will be interesting to see if Rio+20 attendees have the political guts to actually address it. The world will be watching.