THE BIGGER THINGS OF LIFE
and they don’t get much bigger than this
What is the Problem?
Australia’s population has just passed 23 million. Compare that with the figures for our rapidly growing world: 80 million more people every year, 1½ million every week, ¼ million every day, more than 9,000 additional people every hour. And each of these extra humans will want, and deserve, food, water, energy and space. But the earth is still the same size as it always has been and always will be – our world is FINITE in size. The world’s population has just passed the 7 billion mark. Fifty short years ago it was 3 billion. So it has doubled in 50 yrs.
I am now 78 and in my lifetime the world’s population has all but trebled. TREBLED!
We tend to look at our world in terms of a year, or a decade, or maybe a generation but seldom do we consider it in terms of a lifetime. Jasper could quite likely live for 125 years and the day he dies there will doubtless be other babes born into the world for another lifetime – and so on. This earth that we call home, is finite and can’t grow any bigger. We nourish, nurture and protect our children from birth but we don’t seem to worry a lot about the world they will inherit in their later years.
This little bloke – Jasper – was born yesterday. There were 400,000 Jaspers born into the world yesterday and there is a good chance that their natural lifespan will stretch well beyond 100 years.
Is there a problem?
Of course there is a problem. A huge problem. A simple matter of arithmetic. Simple arithmetic. The world is finite – it can’t grow any bigger no matter how many people get added to it and, as David Attenborough says, sooner or later “our human population will quite definitely have to stop growing.” Sooner or later the world will be Full-up! Standing room only! Maybe it already is!
What is the Solution
There are only two factors in global population numbers and they are births and deaths. At the moment births outnumber deaths by 2.6 to 1. In other words there are 2.6 births in the world for every 1 death. And therein lies the problem. The 80 million extra people a year problem.
Blind Freddie will see that the solution can only lie with fewer births.
Smarter people than I say that a reduction in the birth rate can come about by sensible family planning through the education and empowerment of women, but it will need a global response to offer and fund that education and empowerment. The longer we delay, the bigger the problem and the harder the fall. Pretty gloomy stuff.
BUT the arithmetic is there for all to see.
Who will be the agents of change?
- Politicians? No, not likely with mere 3-4 year election terms. Their long-term planning goes out as far as the next election – nowhere near Jasper’s 100 or more years on this earth of ours.
- Religions? There are 20 major religions in the world of today. Three of them – Islam (1.6 billion followers), Catholicism (1.2 billion), and Judaism (6 million) – are all pro big families and anti birth control. Together they have a congregation of ⅓ the worlds people.
- Science & Medicine? Both are going hell for leather in the opposite direction – increasing our life expectancy. And we like it here don’t we, so we are not anxious for them to stop their research!
- Conservationists? They are more intent on chasing the problems caused by population increase – i.e. carbon, climate, sea levels, tunnels under parks, etc. – rather than the underlying cause – there are just too many people.
- Sceptics? So busy knocking the conservationists that they are overlooking the looming – and inevitable – problem.
- Higher Education? Professors and leaders in research seem more intent in keeping the score rather than leading the community. A shame too because these people are in lifetime careers.
- Schools? The question doesn’t seem to be on their radar – but it should be, because they are teaching the people who are going to inherit, and ultimately have to handle this huge problem.
- Industry & Commerce? The last thing this group wants is to turn off the population tap that is bringing a constant stream of new customers to their door.
- The Media? Are they asleep or are they muzzled.
- Statesmen? Clearly an endangered species.
Who is Left? Us. Just us! No one else – just us
But What Can We Do?
Changes will ultimately only come about through actions by politicians and their governments, but governments both local and international have shown little interest in the subject up to now. However elected governments, especially, are highly tuned to the thoughts of their voters and eventually when pressure builds, they will respond and take action. I believe therefore that the only way for change is for a momentum to be built up in the community – a momentum for population parity – and such a momentum will eventually filter through the party machine and cause policy change. But what a herculean task it will be to build up that momentum among the 7 billion of us world citizens. Some of us are educated, some are illiterate, some are well off, some are impoverished, some have a God and some are superstitious fundamentalists. But we all share this planet of ours and will share the burden of overpopulation as it gradually swamps us all.
- We need to TALK. Talk to whoever will listen. And particularly talk to children and young people as it is they who will have to pick up the ball that us oldies have dropped. They are going to be the deciders and the influencers of the next 40 years and beyond. They will be the politicians and doctors, the clerics and Popes, the industrialists and the teachers that will change the world. And importantly they will be the mums and dads.
- We should lobby against any Government moves that smacks of encouraging bigger families. For example baby bonuses and child endowment increases.
- Write letters to the papers. Call radio talk shows. Talk to our church leaders. Write letters to The Iman, to The Pope, to the Rabbi.
- We should always ask the question, WHY. Why more people. Why always more people. Why are we driving ourselves down this dead-end path. The argument alters little if Jasper and his siblings have a lifespan of 125 years or 100 years or 80 years, because the world is finite in size and always will be, so any continued increase in the number of tummies to fill will ultimately lead to disaster – and it will be our grand-kids and their grand-kids who will be the victims.
A Worldwide Wish
- Wouldn’t it be great to hear Andrew Bolt, Tim Flannery, the ABC and the Murdoch Press all singing from the same hymn sheet – “Let’s reduce our birthrate.”
- Wouldn’t it be great to hear the Grand Imam, the Pope and the Chief Rabbi, joining other leaders of the world’s 20 major religions singing from the same hymn sheet – “Let’s reduce our birthrate.”
What a resounding chorus that would be. A sound to behold.
- Wouldn’t it be great if at a G20 summit of the world’s political leaders the question of world population even got a mention on their hymn sheet.
I am not a pessimist and never have been a pessimist but the arithmetic is undeniable. Absolutely undeniable. And it is not brain surgery but just arithmetic – simple arithmetic. Jasper was born yesterday along with a few other Jaspers. 400,000 Jaspers would you believe. Yes 400,000 babies were born yesterday – and the day before and the day before that. If it were remotely possible to miraculously cut the world’s birth rate in half – so women in the African countries had 3 children instead of 6 and women in Australia had 1 child instead of 2, and women in China had 1/2 a child instead of 1 (you know what I mean) – there would still be 7 million more people each year. That is the size of this looming catastrophe. And what an existence our grandchildren will have to share with all the other bodies on the planet. More pollution, more congestion, more overcrowding, more discontent. The world is finite in size and any growth in numbers – any at all – will have to stop eventually. Surely it is time we took our heads out of the sand and initiated steps to tackle the problem before it is too late. When the population pressure builds – as it most surely will – the leaders of our world will truly become leaders. It is also abundantly clear that the sooner this happens, the less damaging will be the consequences. Only then will Jasper and his mates be able to look forward to a peaceful future.
But I fear that Jasper on his one hundredth birthday will look back on our generation and shake his head – shake his head in dismay and possibly, in disgust.
Why are we ignoring something so catastrophic when there have been so many warnings by important and famous people?
View the next page: Don’t Shoot Me! …I’m Just the Messenger!