I wrote a column last week on the issue of the promotion of family planning (including access to free contraceptives) as part of foreign aid. My instincts told me to be wary of the case for the inclusion of family planning, in part because of the lack of understanding among do-gooders from Western countries about the real determinants of family size in developing countries.
I also had a hunch that family planning iniatives can soon become coercive and Cats should always fight illiberal policies.
I was heartend by the evidence (see Poor Economics, a great book) that providing access to contraceptives does not appear to have a marked impact on fertility rates in developing countries, as well as the evidence that large families are not associated with higher rates of poverty.
Strangely, I received a publication at work, entiled Population, Culture and Climate Change, written by a group called Women’s Plans Foundation. (Not a good start, the title.)
And here is the conclusion of the ‘report’:
Family planning is the most effective way to reduce the likelihoold of catastrophic global warming. … The cost benefit analysis [of the Optimum Population Trust] found that family planning is a more cost effective investment than the very necessary investment in changing methods of energy generation and use. Renewable energy paths must be explored, along with the essential of accessible family planning.
There seems to be a taboo on discussing that there could be too many of us. Yet the world’s population has quadrupled since 1900. One billion people on earth struggle to survive on less than $1 per day; they use very little carbon now but aspire to equity with our quality of life. There are 42 million refugees awaiting resettlement, the number increasing as both human population and the seas rise. Even poverty produces carbon emissions when people’s land use is drive to deforestation, to feed their families.
Given the great benefits family planning brings to women’s health and enablement, improving societies and helping to manage human impacts on our environmental support system, why in the world isn’t family planning receiving more attention and funding?
In the long run, family planning is the most effective way of manging the impact on humand development on the planet.
WORDS FAIL ME. BUT IF YOU CAN HEAR THE SCREAMS OF OUTRAGE IN THE MELBOURNE SUBURBS, THEY COME FROM ME.
Note that some of those signing up to this report include Tim Costello, Richard Broinwoski and the Reverend Judith Atkinson.
Update: It turns out the our own Governor General is Patron of the Women’s Plans Foundations!