Climate Change, Population, and Justice: Hard Choices to Avoid Tragic Choices
Keywords:Climate change, global justice, intergenerational justice, population, tragic choices
However far we are from either in practice, basic global and intergenerational justice, including climate change mitigation, are taken to be theoretically compatible. If population grows as predicted, this could cease to be the case. This paper asks whether that tragic legacy can now be averted without hard or even tragic choices on population policy. Current generations must navigate between: a high-stakes gamble on undeveloped technology; violating human rights; demanding unbearable sacrifices of the already badly off; institutional unfairness across adults; institutional unfairness across children; failing to protect children’s basic interests; and threatening the autonomy of the family. We are not yet forced to choose between bequeathing a tragic choice and making one, by adopting basically unjust measures. However, even the remaining options present a morally hard choice. The fact we face it is yet another damning indictment on the combined actions and collective failures of the global elite.