2020 summit

Submission to 2020 summit: End Population Growth, not just manage it

Sustainable Population Australia Media Release, 17 April 2008

The 2020 Summit needs to address how to end population growth, not just manage it, according to (SPA).

The terms of reference for the session on Population, Climate Change and Sustainability, only refer to managing population growth.

SPA National President, Dr John Coulter, says you cannot deal with climate change and water with a rapidly growing population.

"What does it profit humanity if all Australians reduce their greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent but our governments increase our population by 20 per cent?" says Dr Coulter. "How does it benefit our future if we all cut our water use by 20% but our governments continue to pursue population growth of 20% by 2020?"

"At present rates of growth, our population will be 20 per cent larger by 2020 and 50 per cent larger by 2035."

Population Growth makes every environmental problem harder to solve.

Dr Coulter noted that in 1969 the US National Academy of Science reported:

It now appears that the period of rapid population and industrial growth that has prevailed during the last few centuries, instead of being the normal order of things and capable of continuance into the indefinite future, is actually one of the most abnormal phases of human history. It represents only a brief transitional episode between two very much longer periods each characterised by rates of change so slow as to be regarded essentially as a period of non-growth.

It is paradoxical that although the forthcoming period of non-growth poses no insuperable physical or biological problems, it will entail a fundamental revision of those aspects of our current economic and social thinking which stem from the assumption that the growth rates which have characterised this temporary period can be permanent.

"Successive governments have ignored this message for the past forty years," says Dr Coulter. "Will Kevin Rudd finally initiate the paradigm shift that has to be made or will he merely seek to ring one more twist out of the old and clearly failing growth model?

"Will he recognise that environmental sustainability must be given the highest priority or will he attempt wresting more growth from an already overstretched Nature?"

Further information: John Coulter 08 8388 2153