Monday, March 29, 2010

Significant stats (6): Earth's population is 80 million higher every year

2 extra people every second, that is 200,000 each day or nearly 80,000,000 per year is human population growth on this planet - all needing food, water, warmth, shelter and aspiring to have good choices and a decent life. There are nearly seven billion people on Earth already. This cant be sustained and we should be doing something about it, which is why I am a supporter of the Optimum Population Trust and keen to encourage debate on this issue.


  1. When my friends in the Amazon are killed defending it I hear silence....I think the OPT baby offset scheme is dubious as well.

    I think we need to live differently not focus on population...key focus has to be economics and defence of indigenous people.

    Of course promoting womens freedom to be in control of their fertility is something we can agree on.


    for example

  3. I just looked on Wikipedia, and this is the data I found on total fertility rates:

    Years TFR
    1950-1955 4.92 1955-1960 4.81 1960-1965 4.91 1965-1970 4.78 1970-1975 4.32 1975-1980 3.83 1980-1985 3.61 1985-1990 3.43 1990-1995 3.08 1995-2000 2.82 2000-2005 2.67
    2005-2010 2.56
    2010-2015 2.49
    2015-2020 2.40
    2020-2025 2.30
    2025-2030 2.21
    2030-2035 2.15
    2035-2040 2.1
    2040-2045 2.15
    2045-2050 2.02

    Total fertility rate is the average number of children each woman has in their life. It may seem a sexist approach, but is used because women know exactly how many children they've had, whilst men may not.

    The rate for a steady state in western Europe is 2.1, the extra 5% being for children who die in infancy or as young adults before having children. The fertility rate is well below this level in the UK now (1.9), and much lower in other countries. Although typically higher in Asia and Africa, it is falling there too. If we trust the figures above, the global population will stop replacing itself from 2035 or so.

    To quote geneticist William Haseltine, "once women gain economic independence, they do not reproduce our species". A rather stark quote, leaving us stuck between the misogyny of objecting and the misanthropy of cheering them on, but the statistical point at least is clear.

    Superficially good news for the "population timebomb", this actually leaves us dealing with the problem of a rapidly ageing population, especially if you assume a continuing increase in life expectancy. A fall in infant mortality rates would mitigate the effect, unless that fall in itself led to a more rapid decline in fertility.

    Any thoughts?

  4. Climate change is driven mainly by the rich industrial countries. I feel that the massive carbon footprint of people in the west should be our main concern.
    Serious measures to end the debt that cripples many countries and access to birth contol for women across the planet are perhaps the best thing we can fight for.

    Unfortunately the population argument has been taken up and distorted by the BNP and other far right groups. I won't paste a link to anything BNP but Jonathan Porritt's picture featured on the cover of their newpaper last year (without his consent naturally).

  5. Why is it always men who bang on about population control ? OPT have appalling policies which do not recognise the reproductive rights of women but aim at the coercive end of, that's right. control. We should be promoting choice, information and the availabilty of safe effective contraception. Where women have a wealth of opportunities in education, work, their communities and social and political life, population falls. Restricting benefits or trying to coerce people through taxation just pushes people into poverty.

  6. Sorry, but OPT are a eugenicists dream - the thin end of a very nasty wedge and a stick for our opponents to beat us with when they falsley cite the Green agenda as "anti human".

    The issue isn't about how many people they are - projected to max out at around 10bn, but about how we live and treat the planet.

    Fundemental to this is the meat and dairy based diet.


    I'm deeply concerned that a member of the Green Party is supporting the Optimum Population Trust on this one...

  8. I'm shocked to see you're buying the overpopulation argument. I would encourage you to read the text on the following link:

  9. I think speaking of over-population hides the fact that there's a maldistribution of property that makes the situation artificially worse and untenable; and if there are population controls, let's not kid ourselves, we know who will suffer first whilst the rich keep on breeding. This whole thing is disgusting to me. It's just like fascists attacking innocent minorities whilst ignoring capital's criminal control over our lives.

  10. Lesley, why start with a statement of pure prejudice? If you have a decent argument use it - instead of assertions which have no foundation whatsoever.

    I dont favour absolutely all the OPT says but in general I very much support the organisation eg what's wrong with this from their website? Its their core focus:

    OPT recommends the following population policies:
    Globally, that full access to family planning should be provided to all those who do not have it, that couples should be encouraged to voluntarily "stop at two" children to lessen the impact of family size on the environment, and that this should be part of a holistic approach involving better education and equal rights for women.

    In the UK, that population should be allowed to stabilise and decrease by not less than 0.25 per cent a year to an environmentally sustainable level, by bringing immigration into numerical balance with emigration (zero net migration), by making greater efforts to reduce teenage pregnancies, and by encouraging couples to "Stop at Two" children.

  11. Jon, by 2050 world population is expected to grow by another 2.3 billion from today's 6.8 billion. Earth's population is already at an unsustainable level. Greens are about addressing the problems and opportunities as a whole, using joined up (systems) thinking, which is why we have a population policy (but dont deploy it much - which is what I wish we would do).

    Average consumption and impacts per person multiplied by total number of people equals total consumption and impact - so to reduce consumption and impacts to sustainable levels we should be addressing BOTH consumption and impacts and population. They are inseparable parts of the same problem/opportunity.

  12. I'm not 'buying into' the overpopulation argument. I'm just dealing with the evidence and using joined up thinking.

    The evidence and rationale on population is very strong. Its one aspect of sustainability people in general do understand and are very concerned about.

    The big three political parties dont have a rounded population policy and dont talk about it much, with the exception, in recent yrs, of immigration. Immigration is only one aspect of the issue and debate tends to be very limited.

    The Greens have a decent, rounded population policy but still dont deploy it much. This has left a vacuum of debate which the BNP are trying to fill and they bring the issue down to race and immigration and certain types of people - when it should be about all people, everywhere, and their consumption aand impacts.

    Population as an issue is certainly not going to go away and its very dangerous indeed for mainstream politics (in which I include the Greens) to leave the debate substantially to fascist extremists.

  13. I think its great to see that teenagers are still having children. I don;t know what your problem is with that? Its much better for women to have kids when they are younger and fitter. I think that 19 is probably the optimimum age to start having children. I didn't start having children until my 20s.

    I would also like to point out that its rich people who overuse resources, not poor people with loads of kids. I live perfectly happily in the countryside without a car - we use less CO2 in our family than the average earning single person in this over resourced country.

    I think that the best way of dealing with over population and to help speed up the redistribution of wealth is to make personal possession / control of more than 75X the average income (I follow our brethren at the Methodists on this one) a war crime i.e. a war on the environment, take away their money and gaol 'em. Give people a reasonable deadline to downsize (maybe the end of the week) and employ unemployed single parents as auditors.

  14. It sounds terribly reasonable "...bringing immigration into numerical balance with emigration (zero net migration)" but not if you give any thought to what that actually means. Current Government policy is moving in that direction and involves forced repatriation of asylum seekers denied 'leave to stay', militarised border controls, detention centres, refugee camps, and denying basic human rights to migrants. Is aping the worst aspects of both BNP and Labour Party policies the only way to fill the "vacuum of debate"? Corporate plundering of resources, oil wars and climate change are all causing mass migration. Is the Green Party really advocating denying access to the UK to these casualties of a global economic system based on growth, greed and environmental degradation? Seeing population growth as a problem is to sit in the comfortable chair of someone in the rich North while denying the realities of those living in the Global South. We all share one planet and we share the responsibility for its future and we could show this by having open borders and tackling the real problem - capitalism.

  15. But don't you think that their is something inherently wrong with OPT asking rich, co2 heavy,westerners to offset their holiday flights against unborn majority world babies ? If the world's resources were divided fairly their would be easily enough resources at feed, clothe and house us all.

  16. I think Lesley is right to raise the issue of women's rights in all this. It is, after all, women who not only bear the children, but overwhelmingly take responsibility for feeding them. Any kind of theoretical approach on population control, where numbers are bandied about and quantifialble solutions posited, invariably ignores the effects on women's rights (human rights that is), and the opportunities for control and coercion of women's reproductivity. It should come as no surprise, Glen, that a woman has responded like this, after hundreds of years of men forcing women into domestic drudgery and enslavement to a state of barefoot & pregnant. women need to be at the forefront of this debate for it to have any credibility at all. Men, I'm sorry, just don't get it. This kind of nonsense just adds fuel to fascist fires.

  17. There is so much clear prejudice, accusation, assumption and name calling mixed into these comments (and the ones on Facebook, where my blog entries become Notes) that its not really a calm debate on the facts and issues. Very unreasonable of people to take this approach in response to a blog post from me which centred on facts taken from a broadcast by the highly respected naturalist David Attenborough!

    I've even had a few comments full of pure and simple abuse arrive for moderation, including one from Matthieu (who commented previously) which has swearing, name calling and pure insult which I'm afraid I'm not happy to publish. Normally I'd publish everything and respond to every significant point but in this case I cant...

    I note tht no-one had denied the figures and no-one has denied that total impact is a product of population, affluence/consumption and technology/resource intensity - which means if you dont address population along with the others you are only considering a part of the situation not the whole.

  18. But what about the human rights issues of women, Glen?

  19. I agree very strongly with virtually all that other commenters have said about womens rights. I also agree with a lot of what has been said about capitalism! Its does not help the cause of commenters expressing concern about womens rights to stereotype and make generalisations about a whole gender though does it!!

    Frankly given the nature of this blog and its posts on women and capitalism I'm very surprised that some people commenting are unaware of my views (those new to this blog could always search it or click on the relevant labels before throwing accusations around).

    All these issues are about power and control - and that should largely be with people and decentralised. I dont speak for the the OPT but in an earlier reply I quoted this from the OPT website about the need for policy on population to be about a:

    '...holistic approach involving better education and equal rights for women.'

    I've fully acknowledged the interconnections between all these issues from the off - but others seem to reject the reality of population as a serious issue altogether! In my view you cant fully address sustainability and cant fully address womens rights without addressing the population dimension. Its male dominated societies that are restricting women's control over their bodies, so lets fight male domination and we will also fight rising population.

    The link I gave in the original post to Green Party policy on population fleshes out the thinking on this. Why do people think I gave the link if it wasn't to enable those interested to obtain details??


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.