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New technology won't save us from the population bomb

Researcher Brishen Hoff of Massey, Ontario made some interesting calculations. He found that the benefits of much touted 900 acre solar panel "farm" planned near Sarnia, Ontario would be wiped out by the normal flow of immigrants admitted to Canada in just 22 days.

Hoff laid out his case this way: "Let's assume that its purpose is to serve domestic Ontario needs, to relieve the pressure on Ontario's finite electricity-generating capacity, and be part of a plan to replace current environmentally-unfriendly power generation."

"The solar farm would generate 40 megawatts, enough electricity to power 6,000 homes. As of 2002, there were about 2.6 people per household in Canada. That means that those 6,000 homes shelter roughly 15.600 people. If Canada takes 262,000 immigrants per year (as it did in 2006), it takes 717 immigrants per day. Within about 22 days of immigration, it has taken close to 15,600 new people. In that time, the benefits of the solar power marvel near Sarnia are used up."

"In other words," Hoff concludes, "in less than one month of business-as-usual immigration, if we are to satisfy the assumptions we have made, Canada will need another solar farm or some other energy source to supply the needs of the other newly-arrived." It should be noted that immigration drove 74% of Canada's population growth over the last census period.

But the problem doesn't end there. The 15,600 immigrants who are added in those 22 days will have an additional negative environmental impact, which Hoff lists in point form:

  1. The construction of this solar electricity plant will consume large quantities of fossil fuels and produce a large amount of GHG.
  2. The farm land that the solar panel site has taken over will be lost forever, thereby increasing our reliance on our areas, either on Canadian farm land whose supply is very limited or on nearby foreign farm land whose supply is decreasing because of population demands.
  3. The immigrants will consume much more than the household electricity produced by the solar farm. They will consume water, electronics, paper products, air travel, etc. Increases in human population inevitably lead to the expropriation of other areas for the use of the new people.

Hoff's analysis seems to validate Kenneth Boulding's Second Theorem: ".technical improvement will enable population to grow, and soon enable more people to live in misery than before." Hoff observes fatalistically, "Whatever energy humans have been able to exploit, has been accompanied by growth in their population. Unfortunately, this only makes them more dependent on new energy sources. If humans did stumble upon a new source of energy more abundant than oil, it is probable that there would be a corresponding population explosion that would rapidly wipe out the benefits of the new energy source."

Studies done in other countries have made similar correlations between immigrant-driven population growth and increased energy use and pollution. Professor Mark Diesendorff of the University of New South Wales warned that Australia would not be able to reduce its GHG emissions if it continued its mass immigration policies. It is no coincidence that while Australia's population has grown 31% since 1990 its GHG emissions have increased 30%. Immigration currently accounts for 54% of the country's growth, or one net immigrant every 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

Leon Kolankiewicz of Numbers USA demonstrated that since 1970, 88% of America's increase in energy use was due to an increase in population, mostly driven by immigration. Only 12% was attributable to an increase in per capita energy consumption. In other words, it's not so much that people are driving SUVs rather than fuel efficient cars. It is just that there are 3 million more drivers on the road out there.

In the UK, government statisticians reveal that of the 11 million new houses that will need to be built before 2050---much of it on formerly sancrosanct Greenbelt land---59% will be built to accommodate Britain's growing population, nearly 70% of that driven by immigration. More immigrants means more people, more houses, more energy consumption, more emissions in one form or another.

Since the publication of Dr. William Rees watershed book, "Our Ecological Footprint", the Green mantra has been to reduce our individual footprint. But as these studies show, it is the sum total of individual footprints that matter. Not just the per capitas. The number of per capitas. Ultimately, it's a numbers game.

As always, Garrett Hardin said it best. "The population problem has no technical solution."

Tim Murray
Quadra Island, BC
October 5/07


I just returned from Brisbane (4 days on Fraser Island – nice!) and was amazed to see a giant Queensland population counter over the freeway from the Airport, sponsored by NRMA. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it did seem very strange given the increasing traffic chaos in the city and dire water situation.

Yes, the Queensland Government is completely insane. It cares not if the people it administers the country for die of thirst or are enslaved by debt. The politics of this state are antithetical to survival. Someone once suggested a t-shirt, "Your government is insane," and frankly that appealed to me. It would save me a lot of time. No-one who believed that the government actually had some reason for its psychopathic destruction of all quality of life and of any living thing that cannot survive the concrete holocaust would talk to me. Anyone who approached would understand and we might be able to get somewhere politically.

P. Fascogale