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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Population puts pressure on environment: activist

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While a green economy is a worthy theme for this year’s World Environment Day on June 5, Australian governments are determined that ours will be a brown rather than a green economy.

Australia is moving farther and farther away from a sustainable future. Our total energy use increased by 19 per cent in the seven years between 2001–2 and 2008–9. ABS estimates of Economic Demonstrated Resources of black coal were 1,103 EJ (exajoules) in 2009 with about 75 per cent of our black coal being exported. Exports have increased by 50 per cent in the last ten years, increasing at 4.1 per cent every year. If this rate continues, half our black coal reserves will be gone in 17 years (2029) yet we have a government vigorously intent on exploiting as rapidly as possible not only our black coal reserves but every single non-renewable resource as soon as it is discovered.

‘A green economy will not happen if populations continue to grow,’ according to Dr John Coulter of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA). ‘As populations grow, the demand for oil and every other non-renewable resource becomes ever greater. Thus the push to exploit all resources with monumental environmental cost.’

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) says a green economy is one that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.

SPA’s national vice-president Dr John Coulter says an ever-growing population can only add to increasing environmental demand and ecological scarcity.

Dr Coulter says we are losing species at an alarming rate, largely because of loss of habitat to human activities.

‘For instance, there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild,’ he says. ‘Indonesia’s population growth rate may have declined to 1.04 per cent; however, with a population of 246 million, that means an extra 2.56 million people a year.

‘All these extra people have to be fed, clothed and sheltered. It means forests are cut down to grow food and fibre. It creates greenhouse gas emissions. There is nothing green in this kind of economy.’

Dr Coulter says the problem goes way beyond Indonesia.

‘Australia’s population is growing much faster than that of Indonesia. Our much larger per capita environmental demand causes population increase here to have the effects mentioned above.  The carbon tax will not reduce Australia’s emissions while our population grows.

‘Population growth is a recipe for dysfunction, not for a green economy,’ Dr Coulter says.

 



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2 COMMENTS

  1. So we know the problem but what is the detail behind a green economy???? And who is determiend to do anything about it???

  2. While we have an economy predicated on constant growth as spruiked by these economist idiots then how does anyone expect things to improve? It seems there are two forces pulling against each other while governments pay lip service to environmental schemes to halt the destruction. While we have fat rich mining pigs wanting to increase their wealth exponentially each year and governments kowtowing to third world demand for resources and the “jobs” mantra then what we have is a recipe for increasing environmental disasters. Coupled with the endemic corruption of Asian nations, where most of the ecological damage is happening, then it seems we are on a trajectory to doom. On top of that you have cultural and religious resistance to population control and the never ending spurious corruption of a system that sees answers not in co-operation but conflicts and wars. Those of us who want a sustainable future are pilloried as extremists and naive idealists while the greed merchants are held up as paragons of virtue and worthy of emulation.

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