Monday, 16 November 2009

Copehagen and human population

The Copenhagen meetings did not focus on the one issue that drives our demand for fossil fuels and results in all the CO2. That is human population growth.

If I was trying to be controversial, I might suggest that far from trying to conserve energy and trying to develop renewable sources of energy we should be opposing these changes. Why? Because increasing the energy supply and keeping prices down will simply allow the human population to carry on increasing. How? Because cheap energy allows food to be grown in an otherwise unsustainable way, and that in turn will slow down the rate of human mortality from malnutrition (one estimate I read was that 18 million deaths a year are related to malnutrition, and that figure is probably rising). A cynical view, perhaps. But realistic from a biological perspective. Read Malthus if you are not convinced

However one looks at it, the human population cannot continue to increase indefinitely. Nor can economic growth be sustained indefinitely. History is bound to repeat itself, and in the past numerous civilizations have over-reached their resources, and crashed. It is bound to happen again. To me that is as certain as death and taxes. For millennia famine, disease and war have been a natural part of the human population control mechanism. And if they are repressed for too long then eventually they re-appear with catastrophic results. History teaches that very basic lesson, which Malthus understood all too clearly. And it will happen again, unless an alternative method of population control is implemented.

Britain is set to have a population of over 70 million, all squezzed into an area of less than 94,000 square miles, or just over 60 million acres. With large areas unsuitable for farming, and with so much of the prime agricultural land now covered with roads, buildings and other infrastructure, there is considerably less than a quarter of an acre per person for growing food. Clearly unsustainable -- and yet this is presumably the lifestyle that is being advocated for the so called less developed countries.

It is time for a wake-up call. The British government still subsidises children, millions of pounds are spent on infertility treatments, at a time when a significant decrease in the human population is essential in the medium term, if not in the short term. And in the long term, without population control, nature will intervene.

Meanwhile, every 11 seconds another person (net) is added to the population of the USA -- one of the most energy hungry nations in the world. That's nearly 3 million a year, all demanding economic growth and masses of cheap energy.

The politicians were certainly fiddling while Copehagen was burning.....