Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Population out of control

It's sadly ironic that at a time when farmers are trying to persuade government to cull badgers, a more dangerous threat is being studiously ignored. Recent population estimates now claim that the UK population will hit 65m within the next decade (a rise of nearly 5m), before reaching 70m by 2031.

At the same time, UK scientists have found evidence to link past mass extinctions with periods of warm temperatures similar to those projected should - as is expected - climate change be allowed to run away with itself (see here).

If it is acceptable to talk dispassionately about culling animals and birds, then it is time we started looking at human population control. There are six billion of us, one billion of which are living far beyond their means in terms of planetary resources. Humanity numbered 1.6 billion at the turn of the last century; now it's grown by more than three times in the space of 100 years - a blink of an eye in geological terms. There is no magic solution that allows us to continue growing our numbers, and certainly not with the reckless disregard for resources and the very environment that gives us life.

I personally doubt very much whether we will reach 75m British inhabitants by 2075. Not because I think we'll have an epiphany and finally start acting a little more responsibly, but because the climate will have shifted so far we'll be unable to sustain those numbers. The next mass extinction to hit this planet will not only be caused by humans, it will probably take the vast majority (if not all) of us with it. What a legacy we plan to leave our children, and all because we're too cowardly to stand up and demand our leaders start acting in the interests of all, not just the rich and consumer-friendly.

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