Bioethics News

Easy and Powerful Way to Reduce Our Climate Impact

July 28, 2017

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Toward voluntary, progressive, humane population policy

At this point, what should be readily apparent is that a vast realm of educational and policy approaches to reducing fertility exists between the extremes of total blackout, and coercion. In fact, Travis Rieder of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins and his colleagues have outlined a number of such approaches. These run the gamut from educational and purely incentive-based programs such as widespread media campaigns and expanding access to family planning, which he advocates for populations of developing countries which bear minimal responsibility for the climate crisis, to changing the tax code so that it penalizes, rather than incentivizes, procreation—an approach he suggests only for the wealthy whose emissions are greatest.

Certainly there are significant cultural and political challenges to be overcome to pave the way for“population engineering” measures like those identified by Rieder et al. Yet these challenges are less daunting than the prospect of reducing our emissions adequately through technology and energy efficiency alone, and considerably more palatable than the environmental meltdown that awaits us if we shy away from adequate action.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.