Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Population Bomb. And the causes of poverty. An update

Readers of my blog, will be familiar with my rants about how we are ignoring the real issues that drive climate change, endanger species, destroy habitats: i.e. rapidly increasing human populations.

I have just returned from an extensive visit to South America, and unlike Africa, this is a part of the world that is experiencing rapid economic growth. Increasing prosperity. And even more rapid destruction of natural resources.

I was also able to see first hand the results of doing-good by aid charities and missionaries. Not a pleasant experience. And it reminded me of the response I got from one of the world's largest aid charities when I asked them what their policy on human populations was. Here it is, verbatim:

Thank you for your e-mail. Christian Aid does not have a specific policy on population. Our mission is to help people in developing countries improve their lives. We do this by exposing and tackling the root cause of poverty and injustice worldwide. We support and fund projects in developing countries that enable communities build sustainable economies.

To me, it is utterly incomprehensible how an organisation delivering aid to human populations in the most impoverished areas of the world does not have a policy on something so indelibly linked with poverty. And of course, the root cause, which they claim to be tackling, is obviously unsustainable population growth.

And presumably the sustainable economies they are helping build, are based on the unsustainable market economies of the donor countries.


  1. George Plumb-gplumb@pshift.com16 September 2008 at 16:37

    I agree with this and your other posts John.

    I have been trying to get land trusts to acknowledge on their web site that population growth is the main cause of sprawl, loss of land for wildlife, etc. and they abslutely refuse. Some won't even talk to me about this. Of course if the population were to stabilize land trusts would laregly go out of busienss in ten years except for protecting what that now have rights on. However, I now have some 95 organizations that have made the connection as you will see in the links section of our web site www.vspop.org However, none of them are land trusts. Could/should I add the WLT/ Anything you can do to help would be much appreciated.

  2. I have been concerned with human population growth since I was at school, half a century ago.As you travel round the country (in my case England), look at the sprawl of buildings, roads etc and imagine what has appeared in that time. Not to mention the ploughing of the countryside for intensive arable farming. I can't do the same for other parts of the world but maps and statistics give the picture.

    So I have been aware of the population problem perhaps even before John, though not so articulate. I find it embarrassing when after the death of someone close, I am requested to donate a goat rather than money to cancer research, the RNLI or whatever.

    However, I do wonder what is the alternative to more livestock. Given that people are not going to stop breeding (John and I never started so we can be critical) and that millions are very poor, what is going to sustain them if not livestock? Vegetarians, among others, would say grow more crops, but that has its own problems. It is also written that there is enough food (and water) in the world and so fairer distribution is the answer. And pigs might fly to redistribute themselves!

    Personally, I think the world has had it. I grew up under the threat of the Bomb but believed we were more likely to end not with a bang but a whimper of hunger. I may be OK, with only 10-15 years to go and no immediate family. But if I was young and with issue, I would be very worried.

  3. I have just been watching the evening news. Another lengthy item about how we have got to reduce carbon emissions by a huge amount. Again no mention that too many people are a problem. And there will shortly be even more, so rendering present actions irrelevant