Sunday, 22 March 2009

The Elephant in the Room

The burgeoning world population of the human species is graphically illustrated by the population clock (http://math.berkeley.edu/~galen/popclk.html). There now seems little doubt that population growth in our species is at the root of many of the world's current and coming environmental problems including the availability of water (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7865603.stm). People have argued long and hard about whether there is such a thing as an 'optimal' or an 'appropriate' population level for humans for the entire world or for geographical sections of it (such as the UK). Extreme views range from 'technology and human ingenuity can deal with any number of people' to 'there's nothing one can do about human populations and their demands but eventually they will destroy themselves and a good deal of the planet'. I can't be as optimistic as the first group but find the second group a recipe for leaving everything to 'fate'. It seems to me that human population growth has to be recognised as a serious issue in any debates about global warming and global resources (whether we are talking about renewable or non-renewable components). What to do about it, however, is highly contentious in terms of human 'freedoms' and 'humanity'.

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