July 31st, 2012 by Tom Schueneman
Van Jones is a true leader in the cause for transitioning to a green economy. His work is pivotal in helping advocate for and envision a sustainable energy future.
As admirable as his tireless advocacy is, Jones displayed a surprising lack of awareness on the issue of population stabilization while speaking on a conference call sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In response to a caller’s comment regarding the “pink elephant” that is population when considering how to create a sustainable society, Jones’ two main points centered around the (obvious) imbalance of resource consumption between the developed and developing world, and that we shouldn’t “tell anyone how many children to have.”
That this was Jones’ reaction to a question about population belies, to me, a real understanding of the issue. I hope that I am wrong. I hope that Jones knows better and simply wasn’t prepared to give a more thoughtful answer.
Just in case, I felt compelled to send Van Jones the following email:
Mr. Van Jones,
Thank you for taking the time today to discuss clean energy and sustainability issues with listeners on the teleconference call sponsored by the NRDC.
Your work is greatly appreciated and I admire the tireless effort you have put into helping define, envision, and realize a green energy economy.
I must submit that I am profoundly disappointed with your response to the caller raising the question of population stabilization. I gathered from your response – and I may have mischaracterized this, please tell me if I have – that you see the issue of population as one of “telling others how many children they should have.” I realize this is a vastly oversimplified statement on population, but unfortunately, that appeared to me as your level understanding.
Of course, most anyone realizes the inordinately unbalanced use of resources between those of us in the developed world, especially the US, and the developing world. While this must understood when discussing population, to frame it as the central issue demonstrates an alarming lack of awareness about population stabilization.
[The] core focus of population stabilization is principally education, basic human rights, and access to health care for women. It is NOT about telling anyone how many children they should have with their partners. I am truly surprised by your answer to the caller this afternoon.
I suggest you visit populationconnection.org to learn more about population issues. I’ve had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with John Seager, the organization’s president. He is highly knowledgable and personable, and he could help expand your understanding and awareness on this issue.
Image credit: Center for American Progress, courtesy Flickr
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