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Population Policy Key to Environmental Protection

Removing barriers to access to contraception can help in fight against global warming

FRIDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Controlling population growth by providing better access to contraception could help combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the human strain on the world's resources, according to an editorial published online July 24 in BMJ.

John Guillebaud, of University College London in the United Kingdom, and a colleague write that the concept of population control has been polluted by coercive practices in India and China, but given that half of the world's pregnancies are unplanned, providing better access to contraception could reduce the world's population without infringing human rights.

Education and religious endorsement of contraception can radically reduce fertility levels, as was the case in Iran, which reduced the total fertility rate from 5.5 to 2.0 in 15 years. Smaller families in developed countries also play a role, the authors state, citing the statistic that a child born in the United Kingdom will be responsible for 160 times the greenhouse gas emissions of a child born in Ethiopia.

"We must not put pressure on people, but by providing information on the population and the environment, and appropriate contraception for everyone (and by their own example), doctors should help to bring family size into the arena of environmental ethics, analogous to avoiding patio heaters and high carbon cars," they write.


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