Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Ali Miller


Climate change is the greatest public health threat of our time. The impacts of climate change exacerbates inequities not only among nations but also within societies. Climate action may be seen as an existential threat by political leaders and elites whose power and wealth is derived from fossil fuel-related economic activity and may push them to seek ‘solutions’ to climate change that do not require a shift away from fossil fuels, such as population control measures. The U.S. environmental movement and international NGO apparatus have a dark history of advocating for neo-Malthusian or adjacent approaches to population growth, including coercive population control measures. These approaches resulted in policies that violated reproductive justice and disproportionately affected marginalized populations. Recently, far-right online communities have incorporated neo-Malthusian thinking into a philosophy called eco-fascism, which justifies fascistic policies and violence targeting marginalized populations by claiming that they are disproportionately responsible for environmental issues. Elements of this philosophy are evident in mainstream conservative rhetoric. Population growth is often assumed to be a cause of climate change, and population control a solution, despite the connection between population growth and climate change being disputed by political ecologists. Without interrogating these assumptions, histories, and ideological connections, those who include reproductive health services in narratives of climate crises and imminent existential threats – including governments, NGOs, and advocates – set the stage for reproductive justice to be attacked by political actors. These attacks may be motivated either by an unwillingness to change economic policies or by fascistic ideologies. In order to prevent climate change from being used to justify such attacks, these actors must decouple discussions of reproductive health services from discussion of solutions to climate change.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access