We all give to environmental non-profits for different reasons. Sometimes, with local groups, it’s to fight a certain development or to protest a local company’s toxic emissions. With national groups, it’s usually to fight policies we don’t agree with that come from governments or multinational companies. Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t. And even when we do, there are often compromises that make our hard fought victory less effective. It seems there is never a sure bet. Or is there?
There is one surefire way that donations will result in decreased emissions, decreased consumption, and slowing of environmental degradation. Can you guess how?
According to the British medical journal Lancet, there are 200 million women around the world that want contraceptives but do not have access to them, which results in 76 million unwanted pregnancies per year. This leads to unsanitary and unprofessional abortions in numbers that are hard to fathom or measure for obvious reasons, but it also results in 76 million new people in the world every year, most of them from poor families that are already struggling to feed, clothe and house themselves. As the world population continues to increase, sustainable use of natural resources becomes ever more challenging. Indeed, population growth is the elephant in the room that no politician wants to touch with a ten meter pole, and that few groups are addressing.
Yet if you think about it, every environmental issue of any consequence is based in population growth and the fact that there are too many people using too many resources. According to the New York Times:
In countries with access to condoms and other contraceptives, average family sizes tend to fall significantly within a generation.
Giving to a family planning group, like Planned Parenthood International, may be 5 times more effective, dollar for dollar, in fighting climate change, than any other contribution to an environmental cause.
Written by Scott Cooney, author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill)