Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Hush - don't mention the central problem

At a Federal Policy Committee meeting earlier this year I argued that the Lib Dems had a responsibility to talk about the threat to the environment from the growth in the world's population (which has more than quadrupled since 1900), and I mentioned in support that Sir David Attenborough had talked about this issue. To my surprise, I was denounced by another committee member for (allegedly) dragging Sir David into politics.
So even though the denunciation was twaddle, in that environmental science is not politics, and someone of Sir David's national treasure status is way above politics, I won't drag him in. I will just quote what he reportedly said when he became a patron of the Optimum Population Trust earlier this year: “I’ve seen wildlife under mounting human pressure all over the world and it’s not just from human economy or technology - behind every threat is the frightening explosion in human numbers.
“I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more. That’s why I support the OPT, and I wish the environmental NGOs would follow their lead, and spell out this central problem loud and clear."

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Whenever someone starts talking about population I think two things:
1) Whatever happened to all those predictions of environmental catastrophe and mass starvation by the 1990s which gave birth to the modern environmental movement.
2) What are you going to do about it? Forced steralisation? Enforce poverty to keep life expectation down? These sorts of things are sadly the usual responses.

I've not met anyone who is primarily concerned about population who offers any acceptable, liberal response. Always it comes down to controlling people's lives and impoverishing the majority.

The sheer hubris of the OPT in thinking there is such a thing as an 'optimum population' and that they can calculate it and enforce it is akin to those who think they can manage and plan the minutiae of the economy. Its doomed to fail, and at great human, and undoubtedly environmental cost.

The problem is not increasing population, that is perfectly manageable. It is that the economy is so severely distorted by government - originally in favour of the landed classes, then industrialists and now the current political classes and their friends in business.
These distortions encourage inefficient and harmful practices, such as large scale farming and agribusiness, which gives lower yields per acre and uses far more pesticides and other resources.

Instead of seeking more anti-human, anti-liberal solutions, look to freedom and liberty. Unfortunately, the true central problem is truly ignored in favour of more violence and oppression...