6 September 2010

Is a nine billion tonne hamster too big?

POPULATION growth beyond a certain point is the equivalent to a hamster that keeps growing beyond maturity, according to Professor Garry Egger, author of Planet Obesity: How we are eating ourselves and our planet to death.

Professor Egger, Professor of Lifestyle Medicine at Southern Cross University, writes that “from birth to maturity a hamster doubles its weight each week…

“If, then, instead of levelling off in maturity as animals (and all growing systems) do, the hamster continues to double its weight each week, on its first birthday we would be facing a nine billion tonne hamster … there is a reason why in nature things do not grow indefinitely”.

“So growth – beyond a point – and obesity, as well as the obesity-related diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are related. As pointed out by one analyst: “Growth beyond maturity is either obesity or cancer.”

What has this got to do with population growth? Professor Egger says even the early economists – J.S. Mill, J.M. Keynes and Adam Smith – saw that the human economy would need to be modified to a steady-state system at some stage.

Professor Egger’s book is in bookstores now. Online, see Allen & Unwin. For an ABC Life Matters interview, click here.

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