Monday, 2 January 2006

New Year resolutions

The New Year is traditionally a time to reflect, and it has also become a time when TV has endless reviews of the past year. The past year has seen numerous natural and man-made disasters. Some claim this is a result of global warming. Others may see the hand of god. To me none of this is particularly relevant.

I too have spent the Christmas break pondering the grave issues that threaten the planet. I have watched the recap of the earthquake disaster in the Himalayas, watched the films of the tsunami, and heard the rhetoric about making poverty history in Africa. I have also reviewed my 'blogs' for the past year or so. And perhaps more importantly, I have looked at the replies posted to my blogs, or sent to me by email. What is perhaps surprising is that there seems to be a remarkable consensus out there in cyberspace. Despite my attacks on poverty relief, buying goats etc, almost without exception I am getting positive feedback. I interpret this very simply: Anyone who gives more than a superficial thought to the claims of politicians and rock stars, and some of the aid agencies, can see the falsity of the claims that poverty can be eliminated. Blair, Geldorf and all the rest should be given copies of Malthus to read. It was a turning point in Darwin's thinking, and it is as relevant today as when it was written in 1798. Buying goats will never solve the problem -- particularly since in many cases they created it. Throwing aid at Africa has demonstrably exacerbated the problem.

But my Christmas ponderings took me two steps further: There are only two issues that need to be addressed if the planet is going to have a future. The first is the human population issue must be addressed. And that means everywhere. It is not a third world issue. The average Asian consumes only a fraction of the resources consumed by the average European, which is considerably less than the average North American. There is absolutely no way can the world's population attain the standard of living considered acceptable and out of poverty in Britain, without a huge amount of environmental deterioration.

Which brings me to my second step: We must save as much as possible of what is left. That is why, when I am asked why I am not doing more to reduce energy dependence, recycling, or any other of the myriad seemingly important issues, my response is always the same. While these are all important, without remnants of natural habitat and wilderness to repopulate the world, there is little point in any of the other activities.

I certainly agree that dealing with the human population issue is paramount. Unfortunately, I have little expertise or experience in this field. Which is why I put my effort into conserving land. For over 40 years I have been working as a wildlife professional in various guises, and I do now have some experience and knowledge of wildlife conservation and habitat protection. I believe it is up to all of us to do what little we can, and to the best of our ability.

So my message for 2006 for those who wish to help ensure that planet earth survives for a few more years, for what ever their reasons, and whatever their personal beliefs is as follows.

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