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Pope Francis, Population Control, Consumerism and Climate Change

Pope Francis in Laudato Si

“To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues,” the pope wrote. “It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption.”


The pope is right that many of those calling for population control want to place the focus on something other than the fact that their privileged lifestyle is made possible by the consumerist economy responsible for climate change.

Such economies, in fact, are strongly tied to lower population rates. As cultures get more and more addicted to wealth creation and efficiency, this concern crowds out procreation of children.

The most dramatic contributors to climate change, it turns out, are cultures with dramatically falling population rates.

Indeed, we just discovered that the United States now has the lowest fertility rate in the history of the country. But during this time where our population rate declined we also learned that our carbon emissions rates rose.

The relationship between a falling population rate and climate emissions, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, is the opposite of what Rieder and many other academics imagine it to be. Furthermore, human attempts at population control (one of several prescient warnings offered by Pope Paul VI in Humane Vitae) have something less than a stellar historical record.

—from the online article Pope Francis said it: Climate change is not a population crisis


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