WASHINGTON, D.C., March 6, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com)—While President Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius claim contraceptives can lower health care costs, influential environmentalist activists say birth control may save the world from the scourge of global warming. At a think tank conference last week, activists promoted Agenda 21 and United Nations climate change meetings, claiming that promotion of lower fertility rates “trumps almost anything else” and that the average 14-year-old girl “needs to know how to have” sex “for her pleasure.”
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held the hearing, “Women’s Health: Key to Climate Adaptation Strategies” last Tuesday. Participants asked, “Can family planning and reproductive health be recognized as a legitimate climate adaptation method?”
Kavita Ramdas, the executive director for the Program on Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University, cited two recent studies funded by the Hewlett Foundation claiming “that empowering women to time their pregnancies would reduce carbon emissions significantly, providing 8-15 percent of the reductions necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.”
But Ramdas, who serves on the board of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, said global population control had fallen on hard times in the current political environment. “Not a single person in the presidential primaries for the Republican position of president is willing to even get behind contraception, much less get behind the notion of any discussion of population,” she said.
This resistance to abortion and contraception at home hindered international attempts to craft “a thoughtful and active strategy around making contraception available to communities around the globe.”
She said, “If we are in the situation in the United States where the Catholic bishops and others, actually a large number of evangelicals, truly believe that somehow [policies] – not forcing somebody who doesn’t believe it to take birth control – but simply paying for it is somehow a moral travesty with the kind of outrage we’ve seen over the last few weeks, we are not going to be in a position to make sure that that kind of provision exists internationally.”
Developments in the American political scene proved, in her estimation, that “you can’t discuss…access to contraception…without feeling that you somehow will get pulled into a discussion, debate, argument, around abortion.” She stated environmentalists “will be quickly slammed” with an allegation that “this is about population control,” a belief she says is “not completely without justification.”
However, she promptly raised that subject by praising President Bill Clinton for repealing the Mexico City policy, which she referred to as the “Global Gag Rule.” The ban, instituted by President Ronald Reagan, barred U.S. funds from promoting abortion abroad. “Why have we gotten to a point in 2012 where we even have to have that discussion?” she asked.
Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) told LifeSiteNews.com that the “more radical elements” of “the global warming movement have been concentrating on population for a long time.”
He recalled two of the early environmentalist groups were Zero Population Growth and Negative Population Growth. Neither one became a mass movement, lacking popular appeal.
“I think that the environmental movement, if you polled the leadership and the staff of the various organizations, most of them would believe the world needs very serious population control,” he said. “It’s a logical part of the movement. Human beings are a blight on the planet, so the fewer human beings the better.”
Despite the long linkage of environmentalism and population control, it remains little known in the mainstream media. “The global warming alarmist camp has tried to keep this argument under wraps,” Ebell said, “because they don’t want to antagonize even more people than they’ve already antagonized with their policies.”
Ramdas proved unafraid of a backlash, complaining that the American view that young teenagers are unprepared for sex undermines international efforts to teach sex education.
“A sexually active 14-year-old or 16-year-old as any of you who have teenage children can attest to, is full of her own sexuality,” she said.
A young teen “is not just some innocent waiting to be raped” but “has sexual feelings, has sexual desires, is interested in sex, wants to have it, and needs to know how to have it in ways that are good for her health, for her pleasure, and to understand that that sexuality is as true for young men of her age,” she said. “This is not something we want to discuss, so sex education is also off the table.”
Other participants at the Wilson Center had a more expansive international agenda in mind. Daniel Schensul, a technical specialist with the United Nations Population Fund, said, “Agenda 21 has an elaborate understanding of reproductive health and how it contributes to [destroying the] environment.” His presentation notes state, “Agenda 21 covered” reproductive health “in depth.”
He hoped the ties between population growth and global warming will be discussed at the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, being held in Rio de Janerio on June 20-22. As the summit will take place on the 20th anniversary of an earlier UN climate change summit in Rio, it is referred to as “Rio+20.”
Ebell said the final agenda of the new Rio conference remains unknown to outsiders, although there have been hints it will focus on economic issues.
“The European Union has publicly called for the creation of a new World Environmental Agency” to replace the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), Ebell told LifeSiteNews.com. This, they hope, will be funded by the Tobin tax, a miniscule tax levied on every international financial transaction.
“They may be trying to slip that in at Rio,” Ebell said, in order to “redistribute more money form the developing world to the underdeveloped world.”
Although international delegates and bureaucrats hold to a consensus, other scholars question the depth of global warming and the notion that reducing population is a positive policy solution.
The 2011 report Climate Change Reconsidered, produced by the Heartland Institute, states the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940, and 1975-1998, and 1975-2009, “are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.”
Many climate scientists, such as Scienze Czar John Holdren, have called for “de-development” the West, believing more prosperous nations cause more ecological damage. But primitive practices such as clear-cutting rainforests were more damaging than newer, greener technologies, Ebell said.
Ebell told LifeSiteNews reducing worldwide population also proved counterproductive. “My view is that people are a net plus, we need more of them. They’re not just consumers,” he said. “Human beings are naturally problem solvers, and if we have environmental problems, people will be able to solve them.”
Despite calls to implement a robust agenda, the event’s final speaker, Kathleen Mogelgaard, a consultant with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, admitted more studies were “needed to more fully legitimize these linkages” between population growth and environmental demise.
Only two of 47 National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs) for the least developed countries produced by Population Action International in 2009 proposed family planning measures and neither project has been funded.
Very little of the evidence cited by the population foes has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, she acknowledged. While one study exists claiming open access to contraceptives creates “more resilient societies,” reproductive research “doesn’t necessarily respond to a specific climate change threat.”
Mogelgaard said the movement’s financial resources, often financed by taxpayer dollars, would allow them to continue to attempt to forge links between population reduction and global well-being/
“There is a proliferation of funds for climate change adaptation,” Mogelgaard said, observing that the world’s developed countries had dedicated $30 billion to climate change studies from 2010-2012. “That is supposed to ramp up to the neighborhood of $100 billion by the year 2020,” she said.
Despite movements to further regulate the economy in the name of preserving the atmosphere, some scholars who work outside governmental institutions offer a different solution to heal the environment.
Ebell told LifeSiteNews.com his former boss, the late U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming, used to note the ecological degradation of the former Soviet bloc, observing that the biggest polluters also scored low on rankings of economic freedom.
“The answer to our environmental problems is to keep getting wealthier and try to maintain as free an economy as we can,” Ebell told LifeSiteNews, “because it’s when you give people incentives to improve things, to change things, that you get environmental as well as economic progress. Wealth and free markets are the cornerstone of environmental protection and progress.”
But he understood the motivation of those concerned with holding down the growth of the human population. “I think ultimately they’re right that if you think global warming is an imminent crisis facing mankind and the planet, then you should probably be supporting population control of some kind or another, whether it’s voluntary through handing out free contraceptives and abortions or whether it’s mandatory like they’ve got in China.”