This book examines the link between population growth and environmental impact and explores the implications of this connection for the ethics of procreation.
In light of climate change, species extinctions, and other looming environmental crises, Trevor Hedberg argues that we have a collective moral duty to halt population growth to prevent environmental harms from escalating. The Environmental Impact of Overpopulation assesses a variety of policies that could help us meet this moral duty, confronts the conflict between protecting the welfare of future people and upholding procreative freedom, evaluates the ethical dimensions of individual procreative decisions, and sketches the implications of population growth for issues like abortion and immigration. It is not a book of tidy solutions: Hedberg highlights some scenarios where nothing we can do will enable us to avoid treating some people unjustly. In such scenarios, the overall objective is to determine which of our available options will minimize the injustice that occurs.
The Environmental Impact of Overpopulation will be of great interest to those studying environmental ethics, environmental policy, climate change, sustainability, and population policy.
Part 1: Confronting Overpopulation
1. The Uncomfortable Reality of Rising Numbers
2. The Gravity of the Population Problem
Part 2: Intergenerational Ethics, Population Policy, and Personal Procreative Obligations
3. Intergenerational Equity and Long-Term Environmental Impacts
4. The Moral Duty to Halt Population Growth
5. Policies That Promote Smaller Families
6. Individual Procreative Obligations
Part 3: Objections from Alternative Approaches to Procreative Ethics
8. Reproductive Rights and Procreative Freedom
Part 4: Lingering Questions
9. What about Immigration?
10. What about the Nonhuman Community?
11. Can We Solve the Problem?
Appendix I: The Non-Identity Problem
Trevor Hedberg is a postdoctoral scholar at The Ohio State University, USA, jointly affiliated with the College of Pharmacy and the Center for Ethics and Human Values.