Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Population Matters

The Stockport group meeting in June was lead by Brian McGavin from Population Matters.  He spent 20 years working in multimedia for the Government and other organisations. He became tired of spinning government lines on environmental issues and unsustainable growth of the planet as he felt the planet was under great danger.

He quotes Lester Brown, an American environmental analyst, who insists that overdevelopment and overpopulation are resulting in mankind killing the planet. On the other hand he says that the Journalist George Monbiot refuses to recognise that population is the main driver of ecological problems. In spite of the population increasing by one million extra people per day population issues are not taken seriously by politicians. Climate change is mentioned much more often than overpopulation.

We need a radical restructuring on many fronts to achieve a sustainable steady state economy. Population Matters is at odds with Greenpeace, The Green Party, The World Wildlife Fund etc. The Green Party do not want to address overpopulation and refuse to carry Population Matters Advertisements in its Newsletter.
Brian McGavin recommended a 54-page book Valedictory: Population Overshoot by Lindsey Grant to be found on the Negative Population Growth website..

In the US problems are exacerbated by mass immigration , expected to reach 3.360 to 4.400 per day by 2050. There is concern about Obama’s plans for amnesty of illegal immigrants when there is the prospect of endless streams of immigrants from failed states. The moral issues need to be solved in the country of origin e.g. large numbers of illegal immigrants from Eritrea cite the harsh conditions and length of National Service. The EU population is not stable, again because of immigration. Statistics are available on the Eurostat website. In Australia the population hit 20 million in 2010 and could double every 33 years. One problem here is that only 6% of the land is cultivable. In Syria, a country with a high population growth, there was a perception that when there was a drought Sadat only helped the Allawis and this led to support for ISIS. 

Fossil fuels are enormous drivers of the ability to tame the environment but they are not in the happy state many think they are. The production of liquid fuel from oil will not last very long and the differences are expected to be made up with fracking, tar sands etc. OPEC countries deliberately keep the price of oil down to discourage fracking but oil prices will eventually shoot up as there will be a 20% shortfall in 20 years. Fracking has a 69% depletion rate in the first year and 94% depletion rate over 5 years so the sites run out in no time at all. Tar sands are also inefficient and requires a lot of oil energy to get a return.
Wind and solar energy are intermittent and the nuclear power favoured by many relies on Uranium where the ores often contain 2% or less of Uranium being energy inefficient to extract and could run out altogether in 50 years. If the number of reactors is doubled it could run out in 20 or so years. Fusion power is not yet a realistic proposition.

The solutions include reducing car use and having more home energy installations. Fossil fuels should be save for building capital energy-reducing proposals and for such things as mining the rare metals required for mobile phones. The third runway at Heathrow should be abandoned and High speed trains used instead of short haul flights.

Meantime the population of the world is heading for 11 million so food and water will be required on a large scale. Warnings that we have about 30 years to stabilise the population have to date been ignored.

To get a viable sustainable population it would be necessary for each woman on the planet to have an average of no more than 1.3 children until 2040, after which the average could rise to 2.1 to maintain stability. Increases in elderly populations are a red herring. The Pope is releasing his first encyclical letter but is still intransigent on birth control. Islam has no edicts against birth control but in Iran women are being coerced to have more children. Massive population increases are projected for Ethiopia, Mali and Nigeria amongst others.

One solution would be to make overseas aid conditional on stopping barriers to family planning.

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