Weber_5_1_1971By Claire

The issue of global population growth is hugely controversial. People that explicitly state that the world’s population is too large and should be reigned in are often compared to Communist China’s “One Child Policy” and all the negative connotations that come with that policy.

But it’s time that we start to look at population control as a possible solution (alongside other measures) to limit the negative environmental effects of humans on this planet.

I came across an article at Crickey.com.au which looks at this very issue. The article uses some simple (and really not very scientific) statistics to suggest that if Australia’s population growth was limited, we would actually be able to meet our carbon emissions targets without making any other substantial changes. 

Now, I should point out that the actual numbers sited in the article aren’t necessarily accurate. The author simply shows that per capita emissions have grown since 1990, but that population has also grown over the same period. The author then makes the leap that a reduction in population would lead to a reduction in emissions. The author also focusses on immigration as a possible way to cut back emissions – although immigration doesn’t change the total number of people on the Earth, only their location and therefore wouldn’t actually effect global emissions at all.

Although the article is not that scientific, it does draw the link between global population and carbon emissions. On a global scale, population plays a huge role in determining the health of environmental systems. More people leads to over farming of land, habitat destruction, water supply shortages and increased atmospheric pollution, just to name a few.

20110503_POPULATION_graphic-popup-v3It’s well known that population can not continue to increase unchecked because the world’s resources are finite. However, no one seems to actually go the next step and suggest a way to limit its growth.

I find it ridiculous in Australia, that we have a “baby bonus” payment available to new parents. In my view, this simply encourages people to have children. There are already nearly 7 billion people on this planet. Do we really need to encourage people to have more?

Continued population growth in Australia leads to continued economic growth – hence its appeal for governments. But growth can not continue indefinitely and at some point it will reach a plateau. We just need to ensure that this happens while there is still enough resources to go around.