Letter to the local paper:
It occurs to me that the most immediate threat to the well-being of the communities of Planet Earth is not the fact that half the population desires to slaughter the other half, but rather the propensity of the more moderate population to bury its collective head in the sand, in particular with reference to world population explosion. I despair when I hear 'experts' (e.g. on housing, or wild life) describing the measures that they either advocate or are putting in place for when the population of the Britain doubles.
Surely they are aware that after that, it will double again and continue until we are overflowing lemming-like into the sea. Before that happens, the British countryside is doomed. The situation is no better on the global scale. The only controls that I can imagine which might pre-empt this future are war, disease, natural catastrophe and self-control. The first two might be averted by the last, where obviously I am referring to birth control. It seems to be almost a taboo subject. How can the entire population be so stupid? All those local groups who have, over the last few years, raised objections to various housing developments are wasting their breath. It will get a lot worse yet.
It is my opinion that nearly all of the world's problems would be alleviated by control of the world's population. Humane methods are, of course, desirable. In this country the first move should be to stop paying people to have babies. Child Benefit should be limited to the first child only. There is no precedent for this payment. It can not sensibly be seen as a 'human right'. Before anyone questions my family status, I will mention that this suggestion originally came from my wife when we were raising our two children.
I am somewhat encouraged by having recently come across and joined an organisation called 'Population Matters' (http://www.populationmatters.org/) among whose patrons are David Attenborough and Chris Packham. However, I feel that this organisation does not have by any means a high enough profile. Perhaps some readers will consider joining if they are as concerned as I am - and as everyone should be. Because to continue at the current rate is to create a world into which no sane person would want to bring children. Ironic, isn't it?
Email received from Population Matters -
I fear that the current Green Party is more concerned with equality than the environment. We will continue to lobby them.
My email to the Green Party -
'Dear Green Party
I see that you would double child benefits. Are you people all mad? You would encourage larger families when the world, and particularly England, is increasingly over-populated? And who needs a job if all you have to do is stay at home and breed? Yours faithlessly'
Our policy goals
While government policies and personal intentions will vary according to individual circumstances, we recommend that the following should be taken into consideration:
1. Governments, agencies and individuals should acknowledge that, along with consumption growth and industrial practices, population growth increases damage to the environment and reduces everyone’s share of natural resources, affecting the poorest most; and should seek by voluntary means and through changing societal attitud es to reduce human numbers to an ecologically sustainable level, enabling an acceptable quality of life for all.
2. A stable and ethically acceptable transition to sustainable population numbers can only occur gradually. For densely populated, high - consuming countries this may require several generations to complete. Given that human activity already greatly exceeds the Earth’s capacity to support it at an acceptable and a sustainable level for all, the process needs to begin without delay.
3. Climate change negotiators should acknowledge that all population growth increases the number of carbon emitters (notably in rich countries) and climate change victims (notably in poor countries), and thus aggravates all problems of both climate change mitigation and a daptation. Investment in meeting the unmet need for family planning is a cost-effective way of combating climate change and provides wide social, developmental and environmental benefits. We support “contraction and convergence with a population base year” to achieve climate equity, i.e. reducing inequality in carbon emissions per head by eventually allocating each country a fixed tonnage of annual carbon emissions based on equal shares for everyone worldwide at some fixed date.
4. Reproductive health is cr ucial to reducing poverty, empowering women and stabilising population. We urge sufficient political support and funding to achieve universal, voluntary and rights - based access to the full range of family planning services to meet the unmet needs of more t han 200 million women. This includes providing high - quality support and training in reproductive health for education and health professionals, and sex and relationships education for young people and the wider public.
5. Women’s empowerment and gender equ ality is essential for maternal and child health, human rights, economic development and, by enabling women to take control of their own fertility, stabilisation of human numbers. We support the widest range of programmes to improve the social, educational and economic status of women. Population growth is a problem for which family planning and women’s empowerment are the solution.
6. Development is both a consequence of, and contributor to, improved reproductive health and women’s empowerment. We support sustainable development for developing countries and that developmental strategies should include population stabilisation.
7. Unplanned pregnancies are more common than is generally appreciated. We urge governments to identify as priorities the provision of better sex and relationship education, and effective, adequately funded contraceptive services to people in all age groups.
8. We recogniz e that rising levels of migration are driven by complex and often interrelated factors including conflict, poverty and global inequality, compounded by the increasing pressures of population and consumption on resources and the environment. Large scale migration sufficient to absorb all seeking to escape from poverty and other stresses in their home countries would be unsustainable. We call for fair terms of international trade and significantly increased aid and knowledge transfer, not only to reduce migratory pressures, but also to promote sustainable development, global justice and resilience to climate change. Such aid should include funding for education and measures advancing gender equality and reproductive health services, including family planning. On ethical, environmental and resource - security grounds, each country must take steps to minimize unsustainable dep endence on the resources of other countries and bring its population back into balance with resources. In so far as population pressures on resources are managed at the local rather than global level, efforts to achieve sustainability require attention to immigration. Many countries are well beyond a population size which could be supported from their own resources, even accounting for potential reductions in consumption. For most countries, the route to sustainability requires encouraging lower consumpti on while promoting smaller families and limiting immigration to the extent necessary to allo w population numbers to stabiliz e and gradually decrease to a sustainable level. The extent to which the focus should be on reducing consumption or tackling populat ion growth will depend on the circumstances of each country. Countries participating in regional free movement of labour agreements should coordinate on matters relating to immigration within and outside the region. Immigration policies must be non - discrim inatory and recognize the rights of asylum - seekers and refugees .
9. We reject the case that more young people are required to care for an elderly population increasing in size. Those young people will in turn grow old, making such a policy an ecological py ramid scheme in which each generation impoverishes the next. Demand for labour should be met by improving routes to employment and making it easier for people to continue working as they grow older should they so choose.
10. As part of a sustainable lifest yle and planet, we ask individuals to consider how many children they have, while responsible parenthood should be promoted by the government. We also advocate a review of taxes and benefits to balance reproductive rights with social responsibilities. We b elieve that support should be based on need rather than family size and thus that the state should not automatically provide child related payments or tax breaks after the first two children per household, while ensuring that children are protected from po verty. We suggest that this only apply to children conceived after the policy is changed.
11. High level focus is necessary to policy implementation; and we support the principal recommendation of the 1973 Population Panel — the last time an official body considered UK population policy — that population should become an additional responsibility for a senior Minister, with a cent ral coordinating unit.