Making Hungary carbon neutral, and even zeroing its ecological footprint is scientifically possible with BOCS Foundation’s QFPS™ humanitarian climate protection.
Warning to humanitarian and ecological duty by Gyula I. Simonyi, innovator of QFPS™, president of BOCS Civilization Planning Foundation.
The BOCS Foundation published its Quality Family Planning Standard (QFPS™) on 2016. 05.19. Utilizing this climate innovation, Hungary could reach carbon neutrality, moreover, net zero ecological footprint within a year, by the most efficient humanitarian act: by supporting family planning globally. Following the same path, the EU could reach the same state of carbon neutrality and zero footprint in 14 years, all OECD countries in 37 years. Of course, the EU and the OECD could get there sooner, if they utilize other emission reduction methods to complement the prevention of unintended pregnancies worldwide.
The QFPC™ carbon credits based on the QFPS™ standard are social carbon credits. This means that the prevention of unintended pregnancies has a number of social effects beyond avoiding GHG emissions. It supports the attainment of all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Securing the human right of contraception (UN, 1968), the knowledge pertaining to it, and the tools to the general public greatly improves the chances of solving the global crisis.
“After being silent on the topic of family planning for more than twenty-five years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included access to reproductive health services in its 2014 synthesis report and pointed to population growth as an important factor in greenhouse gas concentrations. Growing evidence suggests that family planning has the additional benefit of building resilience…” According to the Drawdown study, the most efficient climate action (after analysing the top 100) is helping the 270 million women who currently lack access to contraceptives. It’s not only key in the mitigation of climate change, but also in terms of climate adaptation. The British government recently published an economic study which states: “Family planning programmes … offer an easy and effective route for governments to empower women, and yet they remain low on the development agenda. It is a paradox.” 
The policy significance of our research is connecting a seemingly distant area of foreign policy, international development, into climate protection. Moreover, helping those lacking access to means of contraception, and preventing unintended pregnancies is beneficial for all countries, so debates about emission reduction could be avoided in this field. As „lowest-hanging fruits”, this opportunity is limited, only the quickest countries and companies can offset their emissions in such a cost-effective way. Improving the calculation accuracy of GHG emission reductions via family planning is of great importance. The QFPS™ standard quantifies such reductions with an innovative methodology, based on databases, and scientific studies.
 QFPS™ estimation (Estimation only, because this standard validates year by year according to recent data, turning former estimates into facts.)
 Paul Hawken. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2017.
 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/962785/The_Economics_of_Biodiversity_The_Dasgupta_Review_Full_Report.pdf (p. 246)
What is Official Development Assistance (ODA) and within that, promoting family planning (FP)?
According to the UN, the OECD countries (Hungary is a member since 1996) should aid the developing countries with 0.7% of their GNI. In 2018 Hungary has spent 77,1 billion HUF on aid, or 0.21% of its GNI. (Preliminary data show jump: in 2020 the ODA spending is 126.7 billion HUF (411.4 million USD), what means 0.26% of GNI.) The OECD countries have together spent $153.5 billion, or 0.31% of their combined GNI. Unfortunately, only a very small fraction of this aid goes to help those lacking contraception.
This is despite the fact that the money spent on family planning is by far the most cost-effective form of aid in terms of beneficial social effects. Reducing the gap in family planning requires complex action: providing education, securing means and services, empowerment of girls and women, legal development, etc.
Reports by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) indicate the money needed to prevent unintended pregnancies, and their consequences: abortions, miscarriages, maternal and infant deaths and unwanted births (and all of their social and ecological costs). In the end, contraception prevents the GHG emissions and environmental impact of an entire lifetime.
 https://nefe.kormany.hu/download/7/f5/72000/Hungary%20-%20International%20Development%20Cooperation%20Profile.pdf (5.o)
How could Hungary become carbon neutral in the most cost-effective way?
From an ecological standpoint, Hungary is among the best, but of course, it needs to further reduce its ecological footprint, including its carbon footprint. But the true leap would be nullifying the remaining ecological footprint by helping to prevent unintended pregnancies! According to the estimations of QFPS™, to achieve this, it would be enough for Hungary to give a mere 0.1% more of its GNI for ODA, specifically targeted at preventing unintended pregnancies. Moreover, this way, the country can become a pack leader among the new members of the EU with 0.31% of GNI, approaching the EU average. Doing this for 10 years, Hungary would become fully carbon neutral, and would remain carbon neutral for free for the life expectancy of the average person, up until 2090.
We are talking about estimates here, because one cannot offset emissions with promises (e.g. with newly planted trees), only with the certified credits from the evaluation of finished projects (e.g. mature forest). Preventing unintended pregnancies however creates new credits year after year, based on the average carbon footprint of a non-OECD citizen, and other factors.
This half a billion HUF per year needs to be spent on prevention of 3 million unintended pregnancies, cooperating with the UNFPA and other organizations, and with Hungarian ODA projects specializing in this. Such projects are underway in Africa, and evaluating these by the QFPS™ can already result in carbon credits. „There are such projects which try to counter overpopulation: women to get career opportunities and a profession, and become capable of thoughtful family planning” (Azbej Tristan, the Hungarian Secretary of State responsible for helping the persecuted Christians and realizing the Hungary Helps Program).
What is carbon offset?
Carbon neutrality cannot be reached without carbon offset, i.e. using carbon credits, because there will always remain some GHG emissions that cannot be eliminated (if nothing else, then from the breathing of humans and livestock). A carbon unit is to be created when 1 tonnes of GHG emission was prevented or sequestered from the atmosphere. This is post-financed by the one who uses the carbon credit, which was created by using up the carbon unit, for carbon offset. This isn’t donation, sponsorship or tender support, which helps future projects, but post-financing the result of a work already done. Carbon credit means the following: with emissions, the polluter will be in debt to the investors of projects that prevent emissions or sequester carbon. This debt is settled by carbon offsets. During carbon offsetting, money from polluters goes to the cleaners, and thus, the economy becomes greener.
The nonprofit organizations generally reinvest such income on climate protection, but those using carbon offsets don’t need to ask what they spend the money on, but what past projects the carbon units were derived from. In registries which are properly administering carbon offsets, this can be seen with all units, and all documentations are accessible.
The usual criticisms that carbon offsets face don’t really apply to a QFPC™ carbon unit, because it is quite different. Its lifecycle ecological impact is minimal, it doesn’t transfer ecological footprint onto other sectors (moreover, not even hormonal contraceptives increase the hormonal load of living waters, but in practice, they have a net reducing effect ). Compared to this, renewable energy capacities have a significant lifecycle ecological footprint.
Moreover, compared to carbon credits based on biological sequestration, QFPC™ can be viewed as final. While carbon sequestered in forests or the soil isn’t forever; these are endangered credits, as forest fires, droughts, pests, erosion, etc. can get it back into the atmosphere.
Helping those lacking contraception is also a humanitarian and human rights duty, and the most important responsibility towards future generations. „Before we could even think about conceiving children, those who are alive should prepare the place for the arrival of these children.” (Gandhi) For responsible conception, the couple has to ponder this question: Would a child really want to be conceived by us, now?
Even if not used to offset anything, the prevention of unintended pregnancies still prevents the emission of a lifetime of GHG emissions (and ecological footprint), and is still the most efficient form of climate protection.
 Simonyi Gyula (szerk): “Igazán szeretne egy gyermek nálunk és most megfoganni?”, BOCS Alapítvány, 2008.
How much is there of this „lowest hanging fruit”
Worldwide, almost half of all pregnancies are unintended by the couple. This ratio is 43% in Europe, but ODA is directed towards non-OECD countries, so we can calculate with the average ecological and carbon footprint and life expectancy of non-OECD countries. Every year, tens of millions of unintended pregnancies can be prevented by the promotion of contraception (and thus, tens of millions of abortions and miscarriages, which are part of the humanitarian results). More accurate data is being calculated by QFPS™ based on a lot of variables, databases and scientific results, year after year.
It is logical to utilize QFPS™ carbon offset first, as it is an immediate and low cost way to prevent GHG emission (moreover, full ecological footprint). In comparison, other emission prevention methods widely discussed (e.g. forests, renewables, cleaner tech, etc.) are usually expensive, slow, and have significant lifecycle ecological footprint. These are left for those countries and companies who can’t get enough of the QFPC™, which can potentially produce credits of about a quarter billion tonnes per year.
Although one year of preventing a hundred million unintended pregnancies wouldn’t even prevent one percent of the emissions of humanity in the first year, but with a single investment, it will bring credits for free over a lifetime. Forest protection and plantation is like that as well, but QFPC™ isn’t an endangered credit, and doesn’t require land (which is unfortunately a scarce resource on Earth). Renewable energy capacities also produce carbon credits with a single investment, but their lifetimes are shorter, their maintenance and their retirement are costly. By switching over to electric driving, avoiding 1 ton of emissions is about a thousand (!) times more expensive than by promoting contraception.
Presuming that in about 10 years, unintended pregnancies avoidable by securing access to education and contraception opportunities disappear on the Earth, and that carbon footprints reach zero by 2050 according to promises, about one year’s worth of global emissions in QFPC™ could be created altogether. For this, the world would need to do its basic humanitarian duty towards women and girls. If the amount of this GHG emission doesn’t seem much, then let’s consider that this also means the prevention of total ecological footprint. Moreover, let’s consider what ecological healing it could come from the end of unintended pregnancies, from the global population growth turning into a decrease, and with a dramatic improvement in the mental and physical health of society…
 https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/abortion-worldwide.pdf (p. 53)
Clarifying a few common objections
1. Is carbon offsetting just shifting responsibility? On the contrary, helping contraception is a responsibility for humanity and future generations.
Those who contrast carbon offsetting with reduction do not understand the concept of carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality cannot be achieved without offsetting, i.e. without using carbon credits, because there will always remain GHG emissions that cannot be further reduced (at least the breathing of humans and pets). Furthermore, they are not aware of the climate emergency. Everything must be done and even that is not enough. No one can postpone their humanitarian duty to support those without contraception on the grounds that they have already reduced their consumption. The carbon footprint, and indeed the entire ecological footprint, must be reduced to zero immediately, if that is possible. And now there is still a chance. Let’s hope that in a few years’ time there will be no more unintended pregnancies. But for now, to fail to promote contraception on the grounds of tortuous, slow, expensive, tiny, often hypocritical, technocratic consumption cuts (whose harmful side-effects may only become apparent many years later) is shifting responsibility.
For example, if I have to diet as well, but I’m going slowly, I’m not deflecting my own responsibility with other good deeds. I may not be reducing my own unhealthy excess weight, but I am reducing the burden of the Earth when I reward a more successful dieter for a healthier weight, encouraging others to diet.
Contraception is a win-win game, everyone benefits. Unfortunately, this is hard to understand for those who think in terms of enemies and opposition. Finally, an area where the benefit of the poor can be important for the rich. Solidarity with the poor motivates the promotion of contraception. Anger at the rich, on the other hand, results in letting the poor suffer, lest something good come to the rich as well.
It is a matter of autonomy and dignity for a woman to be able to plan the number and date of her children. Helping women to use contraception is a human rights and humanitarian duty to women and a responsibility to future generations whose health and lives depend on it! If someone does not want to use it for carbon offsetting, they should do so.
2. Does promoting contraception interfere with the fertility decisions of others? On the contrary, it is helping couples to prevent accidental pregnancies that they don’t want.
It is a humanitarian and human rights duty to help hundreds of millions of poor women in making decisions about their fertility. To solve overpopulation, we simply need more democracy. “The solution to population growth depends on expanding the freedoms of young women, who are hardest hit by over-abundant childbearing and child-rearing. Young women in many societies are relegated to the status of offspring-producing machines.” (Indian economist Amartya Sen, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 1998)
Some (usually citing China’s one-child policy, sporadic and failed attempts or conspiracy theories) fear a violent reversal of the population explosion. But history and the current world situation show just the opposite: almost all powers have forced and continue to force reproduction. To take just a few recent examples. “It is a woman’s duty to give birth, a girl’s glory!” – Hitler said, and Rákosi also decreed this in the maternity homes. János Kádár resented the fact that mothers were left to decide when and how many children they wanted to give birth to. “This is not one of those democratic freedoms, whether one can write an article or not!” “The Soviet homeland needs workers and soldiers!” (Stalin) “Our dream is a Romania of 30 million!” (Ceausescu) “Forward to sixty million Frenchmen!” – said De Gaulle at the celebration of the fifty millionth Frenchman. Ayatollah Khomeini stopped family planning programmes to increase the army.
Currently, the number of people in the world who are not using contraception is increasing. Today, 270 000 000 women of childbearing age want contraception but have no right, no knowledge, or no means. This does not include single women, who are even forbidden to have sex in many places.
The ecologically significant impact does not require interference in the fertility of poor countries. Multiplying the small ecological footprint by the total life expectancy shows the huge importance of preventing accidental pregnancy. Similar to forest planting, which sequesters more and more carbon over decades (only this is a very vulnerable type of sequestration, easily destroyed by forest fires, doughts, pests, etc., and therefore only credible with strict registration and a century-long commitment), preventing a single accidental pregnancy is also a new carbon credit every year for decades. (But this is guaranteed, only the amount can vary according to the average carbon footprint of the year.)
In both cases, of course, only certified carbon sequestration from past years can be used for carbon offsets. It is common practice to sell the estimated carbon sequestration for the next ten to twenty years at the time of planting, simply as a scam, and to use it for greenwashing. It’s like the “creative accounting” that led to the 2008 financial crisis, e.g. at Evron “the expected future return on investment was accounted for at the time of investment.” “In terms of carbon sequestration, newly planted forests are not included in the carbon sequestration inventory until they are 20 years old,” writes a WWF expert.
3. Can the wealthy consume as much as they want because they can make up for it with money? No, because there is a scarcity of this “low-hanging fruit”.
This is an undignified remark to those who, breaking the taboo that has caused humanitarian disaster, do the greatest good by promoting the human right to contraception, (UN, 1968). But they can’t consume as much as they want because QFPS™ is a scarce option. It may be enough for a small country like Hungary, but only 2-3% of the world’s affluent population (or a few hundred billionaires) can get enough each year. Scarce supply drives up prices, making it increasingly expensive to offset consumption. However, it is the fastest way to improve the world situation and to shift money from polluters to cleaners. So those who emphasise carbon offsetting by helping contraception to decarbonise themselves, their companies, their organisations, are taking the more urgent, humane and effective climate protection a step further.
Time is also short, since the Cairo Programme of Action, signed by 179 countries in 1994, set the goal of universal access to contraception by 2014, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG5b) by 2015, when the SDGs doubled down on it: in health (MDG 3. 7) and women’s equality (sub-goal 5.6). As women become more empowered (rights, education, job opportunities, ban on child marriage, etc.), the number of children they want to have around the world is expected to fall, and contraception will hopefully continue to expand, so that there will be fewer preventable unintended pregnancies.
 https://climenews.com/52-eve-alapveto-emberi-jog-a-csaladtervezes (International Conference on Human Rights (Tehran, 1968))
 https://res.cloudinary.com/bocs/raw/upload/v1563023077/A_kairoi_akcioprogram_hun_v1.0_cl4ywn.pdf (A BOCS fordításában magyarul)
4. What is the significance of slowing down the population explosion when the per capita ecological footprint of those whose population is exploding is almost negligible? To answer with a question: Is the misery of hundreds of millions good news for the pseudo-greens?
For decades, a kind of pseudo-green blinder has been shockingly persistent in its emphasis on the small ecological footprint of the poor. Such objections are motivated more by anger at the rich than solidarity with the poor. The latter is the main motivation for supporting contraception.
– Is the misery of hundreds of millions of people good news for the pseudo-greens, since it does not overburden the Earth?
– The poor are not at all proud of their small ecological footprint, they are doing their utmost to achieve a higher standard of living.
– It is the billions of poor people who are trying to climb the economic ladder that are increasing the environmental burden on humanity. Who can blame them? Certainly not the pseudo-greens who have not helped the hundreds of millions of people lacking contraception to prevent the daily birth of some 100,000 children unwanted by their parents.
Incidentally, accidental deaths are by no means unique to countries with a small footprint. The average per capita carbon footprint (t/person/year) of poorer (non-OECD) countries in 2018 is not much lower (4.98) than that of Hungary (6.16), which is an OECD country.
To claim that the Earth could support even more people than it does today is to ignore the complexity of the biosphere, utterly unscientific, presumptuous irresponsibility, and would condemn future generations to misery. Society is not a pig farm, it’s not only food that we need enough of. But the Earth could not even feed so many people without fossil energy. More than 80% of humanity lives in countries with low carrying capacities, where sustainability can only be achieved by sinking into misery – or by significant population decline.
 https://bocs.eu/ki-szeretne-vilagnyomorba-sullyedni/ (Who would like to plunge into deep poverty?)
5. Why don’t the CO2 calculations match? The CO2 emissions from human and pet breathing significantly increase the climate protection importance of preventing unintended pregnancies.
Small carbon footprints are misleading if the calculations do not take into account the most fundamental emission, breathing. Human respiration emits about 0.35 tonnes of CO2 per capita per year, which used to be part of the natural functioning of the biosphere, but in the Anthropocene, this balance is no longer maintained: the total mass of mammals has exploded several times, plants have declined, and CO2 sinks (seas, soils, forests, etc.) are overloaded. So nowadays, even human breathing adds to the excess of GHGs that are polluting the climate. This is by no means negligible: today, emissions are 2-3 times as high as total air transport.
And that’s not even mentioning the increasing CO2 emissions from the breathing of domestic livestock, which is exploding faster than human numbers.
The emissions from the breathing of wildlife, which is being driven out of existence, are decreasing, but it is much less, and to wipe out the wildlife and replace it with herds of domestic animals is collective suicide for humans on the long run.
For those who find it unusual to count the factors of a cycle previously in equilibrium separately as emissions and removals for the sake of accuracy, consider the analogy of a bathtub in which water represents atmospheric CO2. Prior to the Anthropocene epoch, a tap (CO2 emissions from wildlife respiration) and a drain (vegetation absorbing CO2 etc.) were approximately in equilibrium, with no threat of the tub spilling over (CO2 levels rising in the atmosphere). Today, however, many factors need to be taken into account to calculate the rise in the water level (i.e. the CO2 level it symbolises):
– minus: the tap has been largely blocked (e.g. wildlife has been reduced to a fraction)
– plus: a number of new taps are spilling over (e.g. CO2 emissions from the respiration of population exploding humanity and domestic livestock)
– plus: an order of magnitude more water spilled into the bath by a hose (e.g. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion)
– plus: the drain is half blocked (e.g. deforestation, reduced CO2 absorption capacity of vegetation)
– minus: the seal is broken, so water is leaking out of the drain and onto the floor (e.g. CO2 absorption from oceans causing acidification etc.).
The rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere cannot be well accounted for if the CO2 sequestration by the plant life that provides human and animal food is taken into account, but the release of the same carbon back into the atmosphere (e.g. by human and pet respiration) is ignored. In fact, fossil energy use has not only increased atmospheric CO2 levels, but has also been incorporated into the total mass of humans and pets. After all, they eat food produced by fossil energy – and mechanised, chemised, irrigated agriculture cannot last long either, because of soil degradation, climate degradation, water scarcity, etc. This has increased the historic rate of CO2 emissions from respiration several times over.
But does the respiration of the world’s huge livestock population not belong to the carnivore rich countries?
On the contrary, it is precisely in countries with exploding populations that the seemingly small CO2 footprint is significantly increased. Ethiopia, for example, has about 1.5% of the world’s population, but its livestock is about twice as much as the world’s cattle, goats, sheep and horses (and not for export), at 3%. Its per capita CO2 emissions are only 0. 149 tonnes per capita per year in the World Bank database, but the same database shows that the total GHG (CO2e) emissions (172.23 million t / 109.2 million people = 1.577 t per capita per year) are more than 10 times higher (2018 is the latest available data).  If we added respiration to that, we already have almost 2 t/person/year, and with the respiration of the domestic animal population, we have more than 2.5 t/year (based on world average population only). So to offset a Hungarian carbon footprint, we would not need to avoid about 42 Ethiopian unintended births (which would result from the miscalculated CO2 footprint), but only 3 at most.
Preventing unintended pregnancies in countries with apparently small carbon footprints could therefore prevent up to an order of magnitude more CO2 emissions than the carbon footprint calculations ignoring respiration would indicate. For example, the global emissions from ignoring respiration are much higher than the sum of the countries’ reports.
 https://bocs.eu/a-legzes-tovabb-noveli-a-fogamzasgatlas-klimavedelmi-jelentoseget/ (Breathing increases the climate protection impact of contraception)
 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01033-6 (A mismatch of ~5.5 GtCO2 yr−1 exists)
 https://bocs.eu/a-hatodik-nagy-kihalas-a-foldi-elet-torteneteben/ (The sixth mass extinction in the story of life on Earth)
 https://bocs.eu/karbonlabnyom-szenlabnyom-kalkulator/ (Carbon footprint calculator)
6. Is the ecological footprint of the poor not growing? In reality, the Earth has been overwhelmed by the population explosion. If everyone lived and reproduced like the Hungarians, there would be no ecological crisis.
The ecological burden of the wealthy is decreasing, while that of the poor is increasing. The per capita ecological footprint of humanity has not increased for half a century, so the the Earth is almost exclusively overburdened by the global population explosion. (The ecological footprint overshoot began about half a century ago.) However, if everyone lived (i.e. consumed and reproduced) on Earth like the Hungarians, there would be no ecological crisis!
Is the ecological footprint of the poor not growing?
– The ecological footprint of Hungary was 4.4 thousandths of the ecological footprint of humanity in 1980 (1.83 times the population ratio),
– In 2016, its share was less than half that, only 1.8 thousandths (1.38 times the population ratio, which has declined since 1980),
– which shows that not only the share of the global population has declined, but also the Hungarian ecological footprint per capita: from an ecological footprint/biocapacity ratio of 4.9/2.1 gha, which was a 2.33-fold overshoot, to a ratio of 3.7/2.6, or a 1.42-fold overshoot, which is well below the world average.
Is the ecological footprint of the rich not growing?
– In 1980, OECD countries accounted for 46% of the total human ecological footprint (with a population share of 18%, which means that their ecological footprint was 2.56 times the population ratio),
– In 2016, the OECD countries accounted for only 34% of humanity’s total ecological footprint (with a population share of 17%, which is no less because more countries have joined the OECD), which was only 2.00 times the population ratio.
Is the ecological footprint of the poor not increasing?
OECD countries overburdened their own land by a factor of 1.91 in 1980, with an ecological footprint/biocapacity ratio of 6.7/3.5 gha – compared to a global overshoot of 1.17 times,
– By 2016, however, the OECD’s ecological footprint had also declined significantly, with an ecological footprint ratio of 5.4/2.7 gha, or 2.00 times the global overshoot of 1.68 times.
7. What is lacking in the commonly accepted definition of sustainable development? Is fertility an uncontrollable stroke of fate?
Sustainable development meets the needs of the present in a way (and brings future generations to the earth so carefully and slowly) as to not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Without this addition highlighted in brackets by the BOCS Foundation, the Brundtland definition, used unthinkingly everywhere, is obsolete. Indeed, the birth rate of future generations is not an uncontrollable stroke of fate, but the most crucial task of sustainable development. Those living today are responsible for dragging future generations down to Earth at a forced, explosive and often unintentional rate, or for deliberately and consciously reducing the population to a sustainable level.
Those who are truly humane want responsible procreation (and its precondition, contraception), and good quality of life for future children. Humaniacs want procreation, without regard for the fate of future children. “The duty to the unborn is not to create them, but to make them happy.” (Condorcet)
Those whom their parents did not want, almost all carry psychological scars for the rest of their lives because of that. Their misery, and the life-saving importance of contraception cannot be called into question by a few successful adoptions. For example, even in Hungary, which is in a much better state than the global situation, only a tenth of the children in state care are adoptable. Unfortunately, even the majority of adoptable children, those over 3 years old and the disabled, are hardly wanted. It is a basic moral principle that the interests of the future child should be the primary consideration in procreation. The right, the knowledge and the countless means of contraception are essential for responsible procreation.
 https://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xftp/stattukor/orokbefogadas.pdf (The state of adopting)
8. Should the issue of population be a priority? To answer that with a question: Is it the same if weight reduction is achieved through dieting or amputation?
The environmental burden of humanity = population x consumption x technology (this is the IPAT formula). Do consumption and population affect the multiplier, the burden on the Earth, in the same way?
This widespread objection first of all tries to cover up a glaring omission. Population has actually become increasingly taboo in recent decades in politics, economics, the media, education, health, and even in the most concerned social, green, peace, human rights, youth, etc. movements, not to mention religions. For example, over two decades of Greenfo, a Hungarian green news site, with more than one and a half thousand articles (including many international ones), the ratio of hits is not measurable in percentages, but even in thousandths, when searching for the words overpopulation, contraception, family planning, etc. And even then, a large proportion of these hits are also BOCS material.
In the IPAT formula, giving equal weight to population and consumption multipliers is about the same as giving equal weight to someone who is losing weight by dieting or losing weight by having their arms amputated. Are “greens” allowed to care (if the ecological burden is the same) whether 9-11 billion people are miserable and destroy everything, or the few billion available through contraception live a quality life and still leave room for wildlife?
It is a sonorous but vague statement that capitalism is the main cause of the ecological crisis, not population. What is the essence of capitalism? The dominance of capital over labour, the latter of which is becoming cheaper because of overproduction of people. This can be seen, for example, in the ratio of wage bill to total GDP. Every year, some 80 million more poor people are forced to sell themselves, to earn a living, while their bargaining power is weakened by the growing number of competitors. We are not living in a consumer society, in fact, but in an obtruser society. The seller and the service provider thanks the buyer for the opportunity to sell him his product or service, not vice versa. Capitalism is also driven by the population explosion of the last centuries. Historical examples show that population decline completely changes the way the economy and society work.
Social injustices are also often cited to marginalise the issue of population. They forget that justice begins with reproductive justice. The main question of solidarity with the weak is the following: Why is contraception the privilege of the wealthy? We published a study in English, German and Hungarian that shows, through a cluster analysis of 60 years of 103 countries, that access to contraception is the key to lifting people out of poverty.
 https://afrika.bocs.eu/ (Demographic challenges of Africa)
9. But where the population explosion is easing or even reversing, won’t the freed up resources increase consumption?
Indeed, the poor can consume more and more in a period of a population bonus, when large cohorts of older people enter the labour market and have few children. (Of course, only if education can keep pace with the population explosion and they can find jobs. This is how the population bonus becomes a population dividend. Otherwise, it just increases unemployment.) For example, the last quarter century in China shows this.
However, the example of more developed countries shows that even with a slowdown in population growth or even population decline, the ecological footprint per capita can fall.
Large populations with small footprints are trapped in poverty, threatened by social collapse (see the red countries in the map above, among the poor, e.g. Rwanda). A small population with a large footprint, on the other hand, can quickly reduce its consumption in times of scarcity without sinking into poverty. Population behaves like a fluid (cannot be compressed, sudden reduction can only be catastrophic), while consumption does like a gas (i.e. can be compressed and reduced quickly if needed).
A comparison of Thailand and the Philippines shows that population explosions trap societies in poverty, while slowing population explosions, even with temporary increases in consumption, create opportunities for crisis adjustment.
Thailand’s biocapacity per capita fell by 40% from 1960 to 1990 (from 1.7 gha to 1.0 gha) due to the population explosion, but has since risen slightly to 1.2 gha.
By contrast, the Philippines’ biocapacity per capita has fallen from 1.0 gha in 1960 to 0.5 gha today, and continues to fall due to the ongoing opulation explosion. They are already caught in the poverty trap: their country does not have the biocapacity to have a chance of rising up economically with such a large population.
Thailand has come from a huge disadvantage to a staggering lead: its GDP per capita in 1960 was half that of the Philippines, and today it is more than double! Both countries are more than twice as overburdened economically, but Thailand has a chance to become sustainable from twice the level, with its population explosion under control.
The population of the two countries was about the same in 1960. Since then, Thailand’s has swelled two and a half times but it’s barely growing now (at 0.25% per year), while that of Philippines has exploded almost fourfold and it’s still growing fast (at 1.52% per year, six times the rate).