"The question isn't whether we can afford to clean up our energy sources, it's whether we can afford not to." That was the closing sentence of the otherwise surprisingly balanced Los Angeles Times editorial on global warming published Nov. 5.
The last sentence, however, implies what the previous 95 percent did not say: Our energy production is responsible for global warming, and we can cure it by simply "cleaning" it. Too bad the reality is not that simple. The best that scientific community can agree on is that human activities contribute to global warming, but not by how much. Furthermore, "human activity" encompasses not only energy production, but also horticulture, meat production, deforestation, mining and manufacturing, as well as just being alive; we emit carbon dioxide each time we exhale.
In addition, the former is closely dependent on the latter: the more of us there are, the greater the greenhouse gases emissions. Given the current rate of global population growth, we can spend trillions and only reduce the rate of increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a far cry from actually decreasing the total. To clean the air and water, to re-green the land, to eliminate or lessen wars over land and resources, we need to attack the root cause of the problem, which is overpopulation.
Consequently, to paraphrase, the question isn't whether we can afford to reduce global population, it's whether we can afford not to.
Jan S. Stasiek
Hilton Head Island