Black Swan events are proliferating for many reasons—notably climate change and the growing scale and interconnectedness of the human enterprise. World population doubled in the last half-century to just under seven billion people, so there are simply more people living in harm’s way, on geologic faults and along vulnerable coastlines. In effect, we have re-engineered the planet and ushered in a new era of radical instability. Advancing and securing women's rights are a key aspect of the solution to these problems.
“Overpopulation” is no more the root cause of Haiti’s misery and vulnerability than Pat Robertson’s loopy “pact with the devil.” Instead, poverty and injustice play leading roles and must be addressed to ensure self-sufficiency and resilience.
A constructive approach would set standards for how we talk about – and act on -- on population and environment issues: taking care not to overstate the role of population growth and ensuring scrupulous attention to human rights in discourse, communications, advocacy and programs.
We already have an agenda for women's health and rights -- the ICPD Program of Action -- that remains unfinished. The goals of the ICPD remain as urgent as they were 15 years ago when the document was hammered out in Cairo.
The public shaming of Nadya Suleman and others who choose to have more than two children is the wrong approach. Instead of focusing on those who make questionable choices, why not focus on those who have no choice?
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