More sex, more people. More people, more global warming. Pretty simple.
If people would just stop having sex, we could solve the global warming problem! (Envision: Just-Say-No types happily twirling their fingers in their cheeks.)
Right. But my tongue-in-cheek wise-guyism is spurred by something quite real: reducing unprotected sex worldwide could be the most cost-effective method to reduce global warming.
A new study (full PDF here) says that providing contraception worldwide to reduce the 40% of pregnancies that are unintended (UN figure) would reduce carbon emissions at a cost of $7 a ton. Compare that to:
Wind power: $24
Coal-plant carbon capture: $57-83
Plug-in hybrids: $92
The only methods that compete, according to this study, are geothermal, switchgrass, and sugar cane, all of which would be deucedly difficult to ramp up to the massive global levels that are needed. (The study proposal envisages a reduction of “34 gigatonnes of CO2 between now and 2050 – equivalent to nearly six times the annual emissions of the US and almost 60 times the UK’s annual total.”) I’d be curious to know where algae co-firing for electricy production would land.
I noticed one flaw in the study–it doesn’t seem to account for the people who would live (longer) because of the reduction in STD deaths resulting from increased condom usage. (This may be trivial in the carbon calcs–I can’t say–though obviously it’s profound for global well-being.)
Here’s hoping that the Bjorn Lomborgs of this world are paying attention.