Scientists Warning: Don't Read The Washington Post
A February 7, 2022, editorial in the Washington Post titled, “The U.S. Needs More Immigrants And More Babies” lays bare the pro-growth bias of the newspaper while ignoring science and scientists, all negative environmental impacts caused by population growth, or the positive environmental impacts of stabilizing or decreasing the U.S. population.
The Washington Post piece — which is the official editorial stance of the newspaper — pounded on the need for more economic and population growth. The hyperbolic language of the Washington Post included statements such as:
“For decades, the United States has remained dynamic and prosperous, even as other major industrialized societies have stagnated. One major reason has been relatively high population growth, which reflects both the nation’s birthrate and how attractive the country is to immigrants. But the Census Bureau has reported that this engine of prosperity is sputtering out.
“Robust population growth not only provides more workers to sustain the young and the old; more people means more of the intellectual exchange, idea creation, entrepreneurship and competition that result from people interacting in a free, capitalist society. National policy should promote vigorous population expansion.”
The United States remains better off than countries such as Japan, which is seeing negative population growth. But complacency, social problems and reactionary politics still threaten the nation’s long-term prospects.
At the exact same time, the Washington Post’s pro-growth and pro-natalist statements are starkly disputed by science and facts which overwhelmingly favor the viewpoint that population growth is a key driver of climate change and environmental destruction and therefore should be slowed and reversed.
A non-profit organization describing itself as the “Scientists’ Warning made up of an activist network of researchers, scientists, and global citizen scientists dedicated to bringing people together in order to unite behind the science” takes a very different stance than the Washington Post.
Scientists Warning has issued “warning papers” in 1992, 2017, and again in 2019 which are lengthy scientific descriptions of how humanity is destroying the Earth’s biosphere. The most recent World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency paper – endorsed by a total of 14,236 scientists from 158 countries as of October 2021 – identified six priority areas for global action, including human “Population Stabilization”.
The “Scientists’ Warning” calls to task the Washington Post’s promotion of population growth, describing it as “perverse”, when it says:
“Many countries have perversely tried to increase birth rates, through ill-founded fears of the economic impacts of an aging population. This ignores population growth's enormous contribution to countries’ carbon and ecological footprints.”
The “Scientists’ Warning” starkly disagrees with the Washington Post when it states one of the solutions to the Climate Emergency is not more babies, but less:
“End of pronatalist policies designed to increase economic growth by adding additional human labor and buyers – all while automation eliminates jobs.”
To be clear, there are a lot of good environmental reporters at the Washington Post who write solid environmental stories. In addition, the publication has an entire section of the newspaper titled, “Climate and Environment”. But in the Post’s editorial page, the publication goes so far as to label anyone who disagrees with their rabid population growth policies as promoting “reactionary politics”.
It’s the Post’s editorial page that is reactionary, not the consensus of 14,236 scientists from 158 countries. Slowing, stopping, and reversing population growth is one of the many necessary solutions to our climate and environmental crises.