Tuesday, May 04, 2004


I have on a number of occasions referred to Greenies as people-haters. I thought therefore that it might be useful to reproduce here some excerpts from an article that appeared late last year in "Spiked" that gives some detail of their jaundiced view of humanity

"Britain's most famous naturalist, David Attenborough, is backing a campaign to reduce the UK population by half. He claims that if population control doesn't become government policy, nature will do the job for us - and the poor will suffer most.

The campaign is organised by the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), a group set up in 1991 by environmentalists and population campaigners, whose current patrons include Paul Ehrlich, Norman Myers and Jonathan Porritt.

In the 1960s, Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, which claimed that 'the battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.. Population control is the only answer'. In 1969 he said: 'If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.' Three years after doomsday, we're still here.

According to OPT, 'failure to reduce population is likely to lead to a population crash when fossil fuels, fresh water and other resources become scarce'. But do its arguments stand up to scrutiny?

Global warming

Even if Earth gets much warmer, increasing development will allow us to cope with such climate changes. Rising living standards and rising populations go hand-in-hand. The solution could be, not to reduce the population, but to speed up development so that more of the world can live comfortable lives and cope with change.

Food shortages

A classic Malthusian argument: population will outstrip food supply, leading to shortages in the future. Yet this has simply not been the case in the developed world. Indeed, current panics claim that we are eating too much. The average number of calories consumed per head in the West has risen steadily over the decades. About half the world's cultivable land is not used to grow food at present. If we used the best technology available today, a population of 32billion people could be supported on just the land available in the developing world.

Energy shortages

'UK sources of oil and gas are likely to be almost depleted by 2050.. Britain will become dependent on imports of oil and gas from foreign sources.'

You would have thought that Ehrlich and co might have learned their lesson about resource shortages. Known reserves have tended to go up, rather than down, over the past 30 years. As for energy, there is no problem - Britain could easily replace imports with nuclear power if it needed to....

The list goes on: road congestion, an ageing population, urban crime - you name it, there isn't a social problem that, apparently, could not be solved by controlling population growth. OPT has its fingers on the pulse of Britain's fears and panics. Every one of the concerns it raises is the subject of handwringing in Whitehall and Westminster (apart from the imports thing - they gave up all hope for British industry decades ago).

The reason that these have become big concerns is an underlying outlook that views people, especially too many people, as a problem. Human beings are seen as greedy, rapacious and destructive, and the solution is apparently to cut our numbers. In truth, the fact that six billion people can live on Earth - while living conditions continue, in the main, to improve - suggests that people are the solution, not the problem


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