Royal Society and Population study

I am starting to sweat as well!!

More than One Too Many

It is actually terrific to see that the Royal Society is going to undertake a serious study on the impact of overpopulation on biological resources, air and water quality and biodiversity.

Not that I have seen the brief for this study. And it doesn’t matter that there are organisations devoted to global population, demographics, resource use etc. it is good to see one about to be tackled by the Royal Society. As one of the members of the working group, Jonathan Porritt, says, it is long overdue.

Global population has been an ever increasing concern of mine since the early 70s as I have said elsewhere, both in letters, comments and on this blog.

Mind you, here is Porritt saying that anything over replacement number is irresponsible. Well, yes. But it is getting to the point where even sticking to two children will not bring the overall global population down in a reasonable time. We will probably need a pandemic or two to achieve that.

If that sounds flippant, consider that we have exponential population growth at the moment even with the thousands dying from disease, starvation and wars (well, they are skirmishes by comparison with wars).

If we were able to introduce a reduction in infant mortality, an increase in longevity, a cessation of all wars and the eradication of all disease, how long do you think it would take for the global population to outstrip the planet’s carrying  capacity. Let’s add good water and food and shelter for all into the above scenario. How long would it take?

My guess is the blink of an eye.

The problem has always been a political one; the hot potato of unsustainable population growth that no government will tackle. Porritt has been quoted well:

“Governments have just found it too hot to handle, and so controversial from cultural, religious and political points of view that they have just chosen to keep it under the radar and not deal with it in an upfront way,” Sir Jonathon said.

I have a little more faith that this group will have the strength and intellectual honesty to deal with the politicians on this. It is well overdue. We are nearly at the midnight of this planet’s ability to sustain us.

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3 comments on “Royal Society and Population study

  1. Michelle B says:

    I hope you mean confidence instead of faith! If you truly had faith, then you could pop off a few prayers and all will be well. No?

    I am fond of Hans Rosling’s bubble stats showing how better off people are when they keep numbers of children down–how their standard of living goes up. Unfortunately, we have some religious believers exhorting Europeans to pop out more kids because members of an opposing religion are still doing that. However, deference to religious beliefs are declining enough that studies providing valuable information will be used.

    • veronique says:

      Hahaha. Of course I mean faith in the sense of confidence. Well picked!

      Yes, I know of Rosling and thanks for the TED link. It always has to do with living and education standards. It is a matter of wealthier countries letting go of the unnecessaries and helping the poorer countries up a level.

      You are right about the religious interference in most rational solutions to this problem. They are getting further out of control – at least the extremist arms of some religions.

  2. Michelle B says:

    Here’s Rosling’s latest offering at TED:

    TED describes it thusly:

    The world’s population will grow to 9 billion over the next 50 years — and only by raising the living standards of the poorest can we check population growth. This is the paradoxical answer that Hans Rosling unveils at TED@Cannes using colorful new data display technology (you’ll see).

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