Politicians go to extremes to avoid discussing this subject.
Politicians across the globe take up the debate on climate change every day and tear one another apart in the process. Scientists do likewise. However, they all agree on one thing — no-one must raise the issue of the serious over-population of the world because that will scare too many voters into believing that people in powerful places are considering a serious culling of the population, causing some to worry that they may be among those who are targeted as being surplus to need.
Nevertheless, political leaders know that overpopulation is the major cause of the world’s pollution, and they are very aware that it will get worse. In addition, the governments of the world know that they have little hope of providing the food, shelter, housing and fresh water that billions of new people will need just to survive with the bare basics.
So, they say nothing in the hope that they will have left Parliament before drastic action must be taken. They are more than happy to let the next generation fix it. In the meantime, they pretend that they are seriously facing-up to pollution by introducing carbon pricing and emissions trading. Important as those issues may be, they are only part of the answer to a massive problem.
In April, Sir David Attenborough spelt-out loudly and clearly the facts on over population that most people want to ignore. He called for urgent action, yet every world leader ignored him in the same way that they have ignored the strong warnings of eminent population forecasters for decades.
The facts are these:
The world’s population now stands at 6.5 billion, ie, a 300 per cent increase in my lifetime. It will grow to at least nine billion by 2050, if not sooner. This figure is beyond the capacity of the world to support and sustain, especially as most people, even in the poorest nations, aspire to become what we describe as middle class.
How did we reach this perilous situation?
The great religions of the world have constantly urged their flocks to go forth and multiply. They told them that it was important to have many children and grandchildren to look after them in their old age. What they didn’t say was that they wanted their particular faith to dominate the world by sheer weight of numbers. They even spread the hypocrisy that family planning was a sin against God.
Many political leaders did the same. Chairman Mao is a prime example. When he came to power in 1948, there were only half-a-billion Chinese. Now there are 1.3 billion, even though he killed 70 million for political reasons. As he wanted China to dominate the world, he encouraged large families so he could do it by sheer weight of numbers.
Others, such as Sukarno in Indonesia, did likewise, while India irresponsibly did little by way of education on family planning. Added to all of this, the medical scientists of the world found infinite ways to keep people alive, and now we all live 20 years longer than we did a century ago. I am not complaining about that, but it means that a majority of the nine billion people in 2050 will be old. In many nations, this will cause economic devastation.
So, what do we do — get drunk or high on drugs so we can ignore it?
No. We slow down the birthrate, just as China tried to do all too late. Every nation on earth must legislate to create severe penalties for any couple who have more than one child, even here in Australia where we are under-populated. We will just have to ignore the recent plea from Lindsay Fox that we all produce another child overnight for the good of Australia. This restriction will put the world through a very painful phase where, for a generation, 75 per cent of the population are old and very few are in the workforce. Eventually, the population will gradually rebalance itself, but the one child policy will have to remain forever.
Throughout this massive social change, Australia will face a tough political battle on the world scene. An overpopulated world will look lovingly at our wide open spaces, and heavy international political pressure will be placed on us to allow migrants to build our population up to that of the United States — 300 million — which occupies a similar land mass.
We can head-off this crisis now by progressively increasing our migrant intake in sizeable numbers so we are seen to be taking action to populate the continent while reducing population pressures elsewhere.
We must dictate what type of migrants we want. That is, they must be skilled and come from a wide divergence of ethnic, cultural, religious and economic backgrounds so that no race of people dominates the nation. If we can build our population up to 50 million by top quality immigration sometime in this century, we can rightly tell the world to mind their own business.
Can I say this in closing?
The lack of energy supply in the world will be a massive issue. Right now, 50 per cent of the homes in India have no power, and successive governments have promised to connect everyone. This will require an enormous increase in energy capacity in India. There will be a similar situation in at least fifty other nations.
While these nations play catch-up with the needs of their existing population, another 2.5 billion people will arrive by 2050, and they will all need power (and food, water, housing, hospitals and schools). This will mean that all the renewable energy that the world can discover, finance and create will not even provide for the catch-up in existing power needs, let alone the requirements of the new billions.
Coal power stations will never be replaced. Many more will be needed. Coal provides 80 per cent of the world’s power now, and this will continue to grow unless the world gets very serious about a heavy investment in nuclear power. One way or another, a considerable investment in clean coal will become an absolute necessity.