Climate Change and Optimum Population
The Monist, Volume 102, Issue 1, pages: 42-65. doi.org/10.1093/monist/ony021
It is often claimed that reducing population size would be advantageous for climate change mitigation, on the grounds that lower population would naturally correspond to lower emissions. This apparently obvious claim is in fact seriously misleading. Reducing population size would indeed, other suitable things being equal, reduce the emissions rate. But it is well recognised that the primary determinant of the eventual amount of climate change is not the emissions rate, but rather cumulative emissions. It is far less clear whether reducing population size would reduce cumulative emissions, or would in any other way prove an advantage for reasons related to climate change. This paper identifies and briefly discusses the issues relevant to assessing that less clear question.