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Scientist Alan Jones: Today Australia's population reaches 23 million - but at what cost?

Today Australia reaches a population of 23 million. If we assess this against the status of our life-support systems, we should be alarmed. Neither Australia nor Earth is ecologically sustainable as shown by our national state of the environment reporting and the estimate that humans are consuming 150% of Earth’s renewable capacity. Population size is one of the underlying drivers of these trends. Should they continue, the implications for future generations are clear.

Way back in 1994, The Australian Academy of Science said “In our view, the quality of all aspects of our children’s lives will be maximised if the population of Australia by the mid 21st Century is kept to the low, stable end of the achievable range, i.e. to approximately 23 million” and “If our population reaches the high end of the feasible range (37 million), the quality of life of all Australians will be lowered by the degradation of water, soil, energy and biological resources.”

Cui bono? Big business benefits from more people via increased demand and constraints on wages. The average Aussie does not benefit economically while suffering from increased traffic congestion and pressure on various services i.e., the costs are socialised. And our life-supporting ecological systems are degraded.

If we value our children’s future and nature in general, we must apply the brakes to our ever-growing ecological footprint and population size. This issue deserves priority attention but is mostly ignored. For example, on the day of reaching 23 million, the Sydney Morning Herald found editorial space for the farce concerning the governor-general but not for population growth and its consequences.

Alan Jones, PhD,
Senior Fellow
Australian Museum

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The author should realise that even though he is in essence writing about our very survival on this dry ancient continent, in fact what is of paramount and immediate importance in Australia is what is happening in the Australian Football League. I know football is not as absorbing to people "like us" as is the contemplation of environmental collapse ahead of the speeding population train.But if the author really concentrated and tried to appreciate the nuances of the teams and the game itself, he would realise his folly and change his priorities. 23 million people now gives us more blokes to choose from for all those "footy" teams. And its going to get better as we proceed to our next million or so!

In this article the claim is made that, "Australia is unambiguously a far more prosperous, secure and vibrant nation than it was 50 years ago, when 11 million people called Australia home?"

Ridiculous! Surely Australia was wealthy and had zero unemployment back in the 1960s and 1970s and better quality of life.

Just more Murdoch growthist propaganda. Evidence for an argument to restrict press ownership inversely in relation to wealth.