Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jonathon Porritt makes me reconsider my position on overpopulation

"The additional suffering that all this imposes on some of the world’s most poorest countries is literally incalculable. Continuing population growth is already having a marked impact on the efforts being made to meet the Millennium Development Goals. As the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development & Reproductive Health put it in 2007:
“The evidence is overwhelming: the Millennium Development Goals are difficult or impossible to achieve with the current levels of population growth in the least developed countries and regions.”

It’s still the case that most “progressive” development experts think that “addressing poverty first” remains the best response, and that most environmentalists, in a reprehensibly politically-correct way, think it is exclusively about over-consumption in the rich world, than over-population in the poor world.

But exactly what kind of world are these people living in? Certainly not in a world where water consumption is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth, where available arable land continues to decline year on year, where many of the world’s biodiversity hotspots are increasingly at risk specifically because of rapid population growth, where oil at $139 a barrel is already having a devastating effect on hundreds of millions of very poor people, and where accelerating climate change and rising sea levels are going to cause havoc over the next 20-30 years. That’s our world – not some make believe cornucopian world that some still dream of, where the number of people on it is of no material significance."

I'd previouslybeen unconcerned about population growth due to this monologue. However, time changes everything and new evidence- such as Jonathon's point about the Millennium Development Goals- leads me to reconsider.


George is concerned about overpopulation too
. But not overly.


  1. I was with Porritt until he used the "most environmentalists think" straw man, which is the kind of technique used by the likes of Lomborg and Lawson to intentionally misrepresent the views of greens. Utterly unethical shenanigans for someone who is trying to claim the moral high ground. I suspect that he's been so long in the corporate swamp that he's gone native.

  2. You're right about the straw-man thing, of course. Its a poor excuse for evidence-based reasoning. However, from personal experience he has a point- few are prepared to postulate that the developing world is an easier place to make significant progress on environmentalism than the developed, even though this is clearly the case.

    The difference between Lomborg et al and Jonny-boy is that where the former quotes facts and figures they are of the relevant, peer-reviewed and authoritative sort; as opposed to Lomborg's "take a study on one subject and try and twist an interpretation that suits my own field of bigotry out of it" approach.

    Have you ever read Jonny's book "Capitalism as of the world matters"?

    Its pretty convincing.

    Oh, yeah- plus Jonny's is, and always has been, a paid up Green Party member. Woohoo!


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