The idea has a certain amount of logic to it. After all, as much as we worry about ways to cut down on pollutants like carbon, fewer people would seem to guarantee less carbon emissions.
Furthermore, the study finds that spending money on family planning is a relatively cheap.
The study finds that for every $7 spent on basic family planning, carbon emissions could be reduced by more than a ton. That is compared to the $32 the study estimates needs to be spent on low-carbon technologies to reduce carbon emissions by the same amount.
But there are also good reasons not to get swept away by the study.
There is nothing wrong with funding family planning, especially in the poorest parts of the world. That funding can easily be justified on its own merits.
People have the right to make their own reproductive choices, and it is a shame that in some parts of the world modern contraception is difficult to come by.
The effects of family planning on global warming would be rather limited, though people all over the world are still having children by choice, and it is conceivable that the world population will continue to increase by a few billion, contraception or not.
And population growth will occur while some parts of the world are using more carbon-intensive technology, not less.
We don’t have global warming because we have too many people; we have global warming because people don’t pay the cost of their carbon emissions.
Finding a way to solve that problem, with a cap-and-trade scheme or a carbon tax, would no doubt lead us to develop the kinds of technologies we need to avoid global warming with a population much larger than the one we have now.
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