The description of The Climate Paradox
We dream of a long and healthy life for everyone, invest to the utmost in our fellow men’s humanity. By doing so, we nourish the monster called overpopulation, which is responsible for today’s rapid climate change. When we look at the increase of the world’s population combined with the increase in prosperity, the consequences for our climate become very clear. The Club of Rome already pointed out this problem in 1972 with the bestseller The Limits to Growth, a wake-up call for the world. Over the past decades, however, population growth as a decisive factor has disappeared entirely from the climate debate, as it is linked to exceptionally difficult moral questions. Is it even possible to regulate population growth. And if so, how?
Pragmatic between climate change deniers and defenders
The author Peter van Druenen places the discussion in a historical perspective, naming several thinkers who expounded controversial positions centuries ago, and are denounced until this very day. In his well-substantiated argumentation, he opts for a pragmatic position between climate change deniers and defenders.
His argument is constructed as follows. In Chapter One I provide evidence for my claim that overpopulation is the most important independent – and therefore modifiable – variable in The Limits to Growth of 1972, and that the other four (industrialization, food production, consumption of natural resources and pollution) are secondary to it. In Chapter Two I look at the degree to which the predictions of that 1972 report to the Club of Rome have come to pass and show that the theme of population growth has virtually disappeared from the current climate debate. In Chapter Three, based on a number of recent cases, I demonstrate that this is wrong and even dangerous, and that the subject ought to be restored to a prominent place on the climate agenda. In Chapter Four I explore more deeply what I see as the most important cause of current silence on the subject: the taboo on the acceptance of death. I do so with reference to the work of eighteenth-century economist Thomas Robert Malthus and criticism of it. One incidental product of this analysis is the observation that the conclusions of the Club of Rome are entirely in line with Malthus’ ideas, which have been reviled and proscribed for more than two centuries. Finally, in Chapter Five, using practical examples, I demonstrate the degree to which the taboo on limiting population growth has become embedded in our society like a Gordian knot.
Unfastening the Gordian knot
The myth teaches us that a Gordian knot can be unfastened only by cutting through it – or, like Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, by opting, with a slash of the sword, for pragmatism.