“Trucking magnate Lindsay Fox urges Australians to have more children”, H-S, 25/5. Stupid remark from a greedy businessman whose company stands to profit from population growth. He has 6 children, so his environmental credentials are nil.
In 1900, when my grandmother was a young girl, the world’s population was about 1.5 billion. In 1950, when I was born, the world’s population was 2.55 billion. By 1985 when my children were born, it was 4.85 billion. Today, it is almost 7 billion. In just over four generations, the world’s population has increased almost fivefold, yet it took many millennia for the Earth to reach the first billion inhabitants. This is the crux of the carbon pollution problem. More people equates to more pollution, yet we still have leaders who say we must increase our population. These same leaders want a target on emissions, but not a target on population size. Population increases, coupled with a huge rise in consumerism in the developed world and aspirational consumerism in the developing world, have caused the rise in carbon dioxide emissions.
– Jacques Reed, Langwarrin
27/5, in response to the article linked above:
Lindsay Fox and his wife had six children by the time he was 30, and he says he would endorse that for everyone else. That made me wonder what would happen if the 5.5 million Australians aged between 20 and 39 decided to do as he recommends, and if their children did so too. Six children per couple means each next generation is three times as large. Then 30 years later, that next generation triples itself again. So in just 120 years there would be four triplings – that’s 81 times as many Australians of parental age, or about 445 million of them! And, since there would be more children than parents, the total population of Australia would be well over one billion…and ready to multiply itself roughly another 81 times in the next 120 years. It should be great for the trucking business, though I suspect they’d all be living on air.
– Mark O’Connor, Lyneham, ACT
“U.N. Forecasts 10.1 Billion People by Century’s End”, NYT, 3/5 (shorter article at The Age). A very alarming projection from the United Nations – 3 billion extra people! A nightmarish prospect. Educating women and giving them access to family planning is the main way to combat this, but as the article notes, it is a slow process.
“The idiocy of endless growth”, The Age, 30/5. An opinion piece from businessman Dick Smith (who has a book out on population, Dick Smith’s Population Crisis, which I have yet to see on bookshelves here).
This is why I am so disappointed that Australia has missed the chance to deal realistically with the challenges of an ever-growing population. Earlier this month, the federal government released its population strategy, and it is long on rhetoric and short on action. It mentions the word “sustainable” dozens of times – three times just in its title – yet never defines what this overused word means.
The report ducks entirely the question of just where we should be aiming in terms of our numbers in coming decades. This renders virtually meaningless any attempts we may make to plan for the future. How, for instance, can we expect to reach the government’s target of a 60 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by mid-century if we have no idea how many people we will have making those emissions?
The strategy makes grand statements about encouraging people to settle in regional areas, completely ignoring the reality that nearly all new migrants choose to settle in our major cities. Little wonder that federal Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson described the report as a missed opportunity to map out a direction for Australia’s future.
To me, the report represents a wider malaise, which is the failure of leaders here and abroad to deal with the really big inconvenient truth: the impossibility of endlessly expanding our economy and population in a finite world. No politician or business leader dares mention that there are natural limits to growth, and that the evidence suggests we are already hitting against many of them.
Instead, they hide behind the near meaningless calls for sustainability, all the while accelerating us towards a precipice.
An article disagreeing: “Big population isn't a problem if we plan for it”, 31/5. Well, from observation, few if any governments manage to adequately plan for growth – it is usually a disorganized attempt to catch up, and they never quite manage to. Planners from decades ago seem to have been more competent than the sorry excuses for planners today. Melbourne was initially a well-planned city but subsequent generations are progressively destroying this.
We want freedom of movement between the states. We want the freedom to choose our family sizes. We need skilled migration at least until the superannuation changes are implemented in full in 2025, and we need to take our fair share of humanitarian arrivals. Our population will grow. We need to get over it and make some effective plans for the future of the city.
Disagree with most – if you want to retain livability, you can’t expect to keep growing in the ways quoted.