Ever since overpopulation became attributed to many of the climate changes we are seeing today, many writers and scientists have aimed to prove this true in literary from. My second literature focus shines the spotlight on a different kind of work in comparison to Ehrlich’s Population Bomb but also has served an important role in my personal growth in my professional career relating to environmental studies. Unlike Ehrlich’s piece, Paul Murtaugh’s scientific study is not predictive in nature about the effects of overpopulation and does not offer any morbid scenarios that must occur for the world to be okay. Much crisper in tone and offering the results of his own scientific study to back up his hypothesis, Murtaugh’s report comes off as much more digestible in terms of breaking down and analyzing strategies.
This scientific study was first introduced to me during my last internship at Vermonters for a Sustainable Population. As the marketing outreach and strategist intern at the organization, I was tasked with creating a plan to reach young adults in the state of Vermont and had an idea I wanted to run with: providing commentary on scientific work highlighting overpopulation myths. The rationale for this campaign was based off my own learning approaches: if you want it to stick, put numbers to it and make it sound scientific. My supervisor at the time Robert Fireovid loved the idea, and recommend two pieces to me. While I cannot remember the tile or synopsis of the first one, Paul Murthaugh’s focus on the greenhouse gas emission comparison between “typical” green practices vs. children per family ratio instantly struck me with how powerful the study’s conclusions were. In the study by the Oregon State Scientist and professor, Murtaugh comes to the conclusion that if an adult made all the “usual” environmentally friendly lifestyle changes we tend to associate with tree-huggers such as buying an eco-friendly (specifically 50% better gas mileage, driving 33% less, conversion to LED light bulbs and energy efficient windows, replacing an old refrigerator and recycling household trash, they would reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 486 metric tons over their lifetime. Comparatively simply having one fewer child would save 9,000+ metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, around 20% more of a difference for those couldn’t calculate that off-hand.
While yes a hard agreement to compare having one less kid vs. changing daily life habits, I realized that these findings still represented something significant. I took the piece and it’s findings into my own hands and tried my best to twist and concoct a newslike story to highlight this news! While I wanted it to be a “just in!” like piece, I soon found out how long the editing While both my supervisor and assisting unpaid editors thought the piece was ready to go, I still waited 2 weeks to pretty much do nothing but contemplate if it was ready to be published, and of course where to publish it.
After completing my reflection on Murtaugh’s work, I reached out to the locally-known VTDigger and UVM’s Outreach Blog, as well as Champlain’s blog about environmental issues and such. To my delight, both VTDigger and UVM’s Outreach blog editors who were the first in the screening process really liked the article, and welcomed it onto their site with open arms (as from the school I attend, no response ironically). To me this was a huge moment: I’ve never had my work published, heck I usually only do papers for school. The word quickly got out in the family that I was a published online author, and I was receiving praise from all of my family, as well as my bosses at VSP. And while I felt accomplished for the article’s, I felt that this may only the beginning. What I learned from this process was that there truly are so many different environmental topics left unturned and even more myths about emissions and climate change that need debunking. In a era where corporate transparency (whether they mean it or not) has led us to see the problems these giants are causing, but not necessarily the full details and the solutions. I hope that others can use what I have learned and dive their noses deeper into environmental issues they may have vaguely heard about, as this is precisely what I did by following the lead I was tossed pointing me in the direction of Murtagh’s revelations.