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Africans Say: "It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here… So Take Back All Your Carbon"

Africans Say: "It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here… So Take Back All Your Carbon"

Emily Alpert

Africa is getting hot fast. Already battling against the impacts of climate change, temperatures in Africa will rise faster than any other continent. In fact, they are expected to exceed 2 C and may reach as high as 6 C greater than 20th century levels. These rapidly rising temperatures foreshadow increased drought, famine and disease. The most vulnerable populations – of which millions are smallholder farmers – need solutions, and they need them now.

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The solutions this article describes are what are needed. Not the “huge” ideas of Bill Gates and Jeffrey Sachs that only serve to enrich the corporate wealthy.


Unfortunately, “prosperity” today is defined as the endless acquisition of money. Tribal cultures have lived sustainably, with plenty of leisure time, more or less happily and in stable social groups for millennia. Since money came into the picture, all former tribal cultures know is work and more work, conflict and more conflict and a lower and lower standard of living defined by the endless search for more in a deteriorating environment.


Even more, population-reduction is needed. Until we have the forces under control that are changing the climate, the alternative to reproduction-limitation is going to be famine, disease, and war. In my book at least, that’s not a preferable solution.


True that projected population growth is greatest in Africa. It takes years to halt and reverse population growth, so what is your plan to reduce population in Africa that is sensitive to the peoples of Africa? Those fleeing Africa into southern Europe are the tip of the iceberg. It may mean considerable migration as well as social solutions that promote women’s economics, among other things. The small farm solutions are a part of the plan as many susbsistence farmers in Africa are women.

It’s a general plan that is based on fairness. The late John Rawls characterised “justice” as being simple fairness, and fairness is also being demonstrated experimentally all around the world as being the most important quality in successful human relationships.

If we perceive that we’re being treated fairly, then we’re open to many strictures and outcomes that we would otherwise reject. Similarly, the willingness to behave fairly and accept fairness is a good diagnostic tool in psychology. Many of the character disorders manifest as an inability or unwillingness to behave with fairness.

So my plan (grandiose name for an opinion/wish, I suppose), is that a majority of people all around the world agree to enforce a limit of 0.5 live birth per person guaranteed by post-partum medical sterilisation of both parents. The penalty for a male who gets more than one woman knocked up at the same time except by bona-fide accident should be loss of his dangly bits (I’m thinking here of the Big Beard and Urban Thug subcultures, where males arrogate to themselves the right to impregnate many women – only the threat of complete castration is likely to modify their behavior).

Couple that with boxing up the psychopaths who currently run most governments on Earth, replacing their feudalism (currently instantiated as Capitalism) with a global economy of open-handed sharing, and the instantiation of global crash programs to re-forest to the 50-75% level, create a terabit global comm network, and drop the global energy draw (which mostly means the industrialised world’s personal energy draw) to the lowest possible level consistent with not giving up modern life.

At some point the diminishing population and diminishing energy draw will intersect at the point where the remaining energy needs can be sourced without combustion or environmental destruction.

According to the zero-th order cut I worked up using a spreadsheet, UN pop projections, and a few simplifying assumptions, if we start in 2020 the human pop would peak around 2050, and return to where it is now by 2080.

So that would be the “tight squeeze” window: ~60 years.

By around 2120 (i.e. 100 years) we’d be back to the 1960 pop, and by 2220 we’d be at about twice the population Earth had when Poplicola decreed the Roman Republic, Cleisthenes experimented with democracy in Athens, and Siddhartha Gautama wandered around telling people to be kind to other living creatures. Then we could go back to replacement level repro.

Carbon sequestration in soil should be part of a comprehensive strategy to limit the increase in temperature to below 2C as much as possible. Ending deforestation and implementing reforestation should also be part of this strategy. The ultimate goal really needs to be getting the atmospheric CO2 level below 350 ppm, particularly to stop sea level rise, and to accomplish this pulling large amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere will be essential.

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Don’t just blame men for “knocking up” women. I am under the impression that a great many women like having children and that some regret not having enough.

It’s a mistaken impression.

Very few women want to spend their lives being baby factories, and while there are a number of Big Beard cultures that regard many children as evidence of the male’s virility, I know of none where they enhance a woman’s social standing.

Men used to outlive their wives, sometimes several of them, because pregnancy and childbirth are so debilitating. My Mum’s mum died in her early 30s as a result of the RCC’s demand for more babies. A baby every year just wore her out and killed her even though they weren’t poor and employed a maid-of-all-work.

Multiple pregnancies are still a slow form of suicide, for the great majority of women who lack access to owner-class medical care, nutrition, and home help. And women know that.