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Decoupling Population from Global Warming

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorApril 14, 2009 12:30 AM


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No environmental issue, other than global warming, generates as much controversy and misguided rhetoric as overpopulation. (The disclaimer at the top of the Wikipedia entry that I link to speaks for itself.) The population issue has loomed so large in the environmental movement that greens these days have a tendency to consider it part of the global warming equation. It's not. So Joe Romm is to be applauded for his post today, aptly headlined, "Consumption dwarfs population as global warming threat." Romm is obviously smart enough to recognize that Al Gore's or Thomas Friedman's carbon footprint dwarfs that of a family of ten living in a mud hut in Haiti or the Philippines. So this makes me wonder if Romm's simplistic posts on catastrophic floods and wildfires are cynical attempts to rouse greater public concern. I think he's taken the wrong tack there and that it undermines his otherwise credible stances, be it on the hydrogen economy or, as he demonstrates today, on population. I will say this: the obvious teeth-gnashing by his acolytes in the comment thread of the post is enjoyable.

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