“Be Afraid. Experts Discuss Hallowe’en Population Doomsday” (PPF/Huffington Post, 1/10) contains various opinions on how the world will cope with continuing population growth. Of note is the opinion of an environmental reporter, Fred Pearce:
“The issue for me is about consumption, for which there are worrying statistics. We are not overpopulated in an absolute sense, we’ve got the technology for 10 billion, probably 15 billion people, to live on this planet and live good lives. What we haven’t done is developed our technology.” When asked of the issue that needed most redress, he said: “We really need to kick the carbon habit and stop making our energy from burning things. Climate change is also really important. You can wreck one rainforest then move, drain one area of resources and move onto another but climate change is global.”
That is the fallacy a lot of environmentalists believe: that population growth can be coped with if everyone learns to live sustainably and “magical” technological fixes are applied (what these are I am not sure). Well, in reality that is unlikely to happen; a lot of people, including those in developing countries, want high living standards, which is fair enough, and would resent having to downgrade their lifestyle. His opinion does not address the sheer amount of waste that 15 billion people would produce, and it’s unlikely all waste would be recycled. With a lower population, everyone could enjoy high living standards, though the wasteful consumerism that drives current society is behaviour that should be changed. I certainly consider myself an environmentalist, but do not share that optimistic faith in technological fixes.
City can’t cope
JASON Dowling’s article “ Storm of protest as sewage released into waterways” (The Age, 3/10) is a testament to the fact that Melbourne’s population has grown far too rapidly and has outstripped the capacity of our sewerage infrastructure to cope.
Compounding the problem is that open spaces that absorb rainfall into the ground are diminishing as they are built over or paved over to accommodate ever-high population.
The government should show concern but instead it encourages more and more development, which is incrementally to our detriment. Citizens and government need to wake up while we can still do something about ensuring a sustainable future.
– Jill Quirk, Sustainable Population Australia (Victorian branch), East Malvern
Price of growth
THE cost of traffic congestion financially, socially (more time commuting means less family time, more tiredness, illness and injury), and environmentally (pollution, loss of open space, habitat and biodiversity) is actually a cost of population growth. We always hear how we must have population growth to stimulate the economy, but we almost never hear about the costs. Traffic congestion is just one of many detrimental effects of high growth rates that are inevitably unsustainable.
– Jennie Epstein, Little River