20 Million: More than enough (Dec) | Sustainable Population Australia

An independent not-for-profit organisation seeking to protect the environment and our quality of life by ending population growth in Australia and globally, while rejecting racism and coercive population control. SPA is an environmental advocacy organisation, not a political party.

20 Million: More than enough (Dec)

 

Canberra, ACT

Dec 4, 2003 for 20 Million Day - 4 December 2003

Twenty million people on a continent with a fragile environment is more than enough, according to one of four eminent Australians who are all Patrons of Sustainable Population Australia inc (SPA).

Broadcaster and author, Dr Paul Collins, says no country has infinite resources and that this is especially true of Australia.

"We have a fragile environment that is already under enormous pressure and degraded. More people means more pressure," says Dr Collins.

Another Patron, Professor Frank Fenner, winner of last year's Prime Minister's Science Prize says we must proclaim to all that exponential growth, of either population or resource use, is unsustainable.

"Locally, we must try to make human life in Australia sustainable by working hard at reversing our despoliation of the environment, reversing our infatuation with the consumer society and keeping our population growth as low as possible," says Professor Fenner.

For Dr Mary White, author of an epic series of books about the nature of the continent of Australasia, twenty million rings alarm bells. She says that the urbanised, consumer-minded and increasingly numerous population has an ever heavier ecological footprint and impact.

"I have been warning that though we are feeding 80 million people globally today we may find in the not all too distant future that we cannot feed 20 million resident Australians," she says.

Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe, chair of the advisory council that produced the first national report on the state of the environment in 1996, says 20 million should be the wake-up call for a public debate about our future population.

"We will not achieve our goal of sustainability unless we stabilise population in a civilised way," Professor Lowe says.


Mary White: Twenty million rings alarm bells for me! I have been warning that though we are feeding 80 million people globally today we may find in the not all too distant future that we cannot feed 20 million resident Australians. The current degradation of our basic resources - our soils and our surface and underground water - is such that unless we change our management practices and halt the desertification the future is far from rosy. Our increasingly urbanised and increasingly consumer-minded population (increasingly numerous) has an ever heavier ecological footprint and impact. Our ancient, fragile continent has a limited carrying capacity, already far exceeded for humans, and loss of natural biodiversity is one of the tragic consequences.

Ian Lowe: The population has reached 20 million. This should be the wake-up call for a public debate about our future population. Some local authorities have decided to limit their future population to preserve the quality of life. As a nation, we must realise that we will not achieve our goal of sustainability unless we stabilise the population in a civilised way.

Frank Fenner: One of my mentors, Rene Dubos, invented the phrase "Think globally, act locally." 2003 is a landmark year, for Australia has now reached a population, 20 million, which may be sustainable. Whether it will be depends on what happens here and in the rest of the world, for if the growth fetish, as Clive Hamilton calls it, persists in the wealthy countries like Australia and the United States, we are likely to be overwhelmed by environmental refugees from south and south east Asia. What can we do? We must realise and proclaim to all Australians and to all the inhabitants of Planet Earth that exponential growth, of either population or resource use, is unsustainable. Locally, we must try to make human life in Australia sustainable by working hard at reversing our despoliation of the environment, reversing our infatuation with the consumer society and keeping our population growth as low as possible, so that in time the inevitable increase of the next few decades is reversed. Globally, we must do our best to eliminate the poverty gap between the first and the third world, encourage all other countries, especially the wealthy countries, to limit their resource use, and help the third world countries to limit their population growth by encouraging and assisting the world wide use of contraception.

Paul Collins: No country has infinite resources. This is especially true of Australia. We have a fragile environment that is already under enormous pressure and degraded. More people means more pressure. Twenty million is more than enough.

What we should be generously sharing with others is our expertise, our knowledge, our people, our commitment to democratic values and to building a just world. Not our thin soil, our scarce resources, our fragile ecosystems and our endangered species.

Further information:

Mary White Ph: 02 6556 5024
Ian Lowe Ph: 07 3875 7610
Frank Fenner Ph: 02 6295 9176
Paul Collins Ph: 02 6262 6159

Jenny Goldie Ph: 02 6235 5488

 

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