Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor from SPA members, supporters and others are a rich source of community insights and concerns about population issues. The SPA web site maintains an archive of published letters.

30 September 2020

Curb the growth

Crispin Hull is able to put big issues in perspective (“Affordable housing may be an economic upside to the pandemic”, canberratimes.com.au, September 26).

But he did not link it to emissions and global warming. Before the pandemic Australia’s population growth rate (1.6 per cent) was much higher than comparable countries.

The rising population has contributed to rising emissions through more buildings, energy use, transport and food.

Ongoing population growth makes it even more urgent to transition away from fossil fuels to renewables.

Ray Peck Canberra Times

27 September 2020

Future no mystery

Had I not known one of its members I would never have heard of the Commission for the Human Future (CHF) until I read the report “Australia’s current crises warning of what’s to come” (September 20, p10). The CHF has an (extremely) low profile despite any one of the 10 listed threats to the welfare or survival of humanity being a globally important, if not existential issue.

Perhaps there should be an addition to threat number five (pollution): the solid waste that threatens to engulf our cities and physically pollute large nearby areas of arable land. I would decline to nominate just one of the 10 listed threats as being the most important, partly because they are all important and partly because many are interrelated. However, as I see it, item four (global warming, etc.) and item three (population growth and demand) together represent the greatest and most pervasive threat to humanity.

Our governments should act accordingly.

Douglas Mackenzie Canberra Times

15 September 2020


CHRISTOPHER Pyne’s call for population increase for SA (The Advertiser, yesterday) reminds me of a farmer I once knew.

This chap was very successful; he used to run 800 ewes on his lush pastures and they thrived, producing a good wool clip and great lambs for market. The grass was so plentiful, he rarely needed to provide supplementary feed.

A farm adviser managed to get his ear one day and with the encouragement of the farmer’s son who had returned from higher education, they agreed to increase the ewe numbers to 1000.

The next year they had more lambs to sell and even though they lacked a bit of bloom the net income was a bit higher. Wool production per head slipped but overall there was a meagre gain.

The next year the ewe numbers went to 1100, which led to unfortunate results.

The pastures were very short; more drenching was needed to combat intestinal worms; lambing percentage dropped as did the growth of the lambs – some didn’t make it to market.

The dams could not provide adequate water for the sheep and as the pastures turned to a dust bowl, causing erosion.

The farmer had to resort to buying fodder to sustain his flock.

The once-profitable farm became a burdensome loss.

The old farmer explained to his son that there is a natural limit to most things and ignoring it leads to disaster.

I wonder whether there is a lesson here for the future SA?

Ken Grundy Adelaide Advertiser

5 September 2020

Way to go Crispin

Congratulations to Crispin Hull who referred to “… high immigration and high population growth, which enriches the few at the expense of the many, and at the expense of the natural environment and its nonhuman inhabitants” (“Scaremongering on population doesn’t help anyone“, canberratimes.com.au, August 29).

Hull’s comments are a welcome antidote to the considerable nonsense served up recently about cuts to immigration, and thus population growth, made necessary by the COVID-19 crisis. What riles me most are those about loss in property values, as though home owners and investors were the only ones who mattered.

How many times does it have to be said that every new person added to the population costs at least $100,000 in public money? KPMG seems to ignore this. By all means maintain, and even extend, the refugee program, but apart from some spouse reunion, the only migrants the country needs are those with high skills that can help with the economic recovery, particularly in the renewable energy sector so that it can be an integral part of the recovery when it comes.

Jenny Goldie Canberra Times

5 September 2020

Population factor

WHILE I broadly agree with Renee Watson that excessive consumption is a major factor to be addressed in reducing CO2 emissions, it is not completely accurate to say “it is too much consumption that is driving climate change, not overpopulation” (“Fossil fuel blame”, The Advertiser, Thursday),.

Poorer countries such as Nigeria have low per-person emissions. However, the UN predicts that its population will increase from its present 206 million to about 730 million (median projection) by 2100.

So, even though their emissions per person are low compared to relatively affluent countries such as Australia, their total emissions will massively increase.

This will worsen as the Nigerians understandably seek more affluent lifestyles. And there are many countries like Nigeria.

I realise that the matter of limiting population increase is contentious, but it must be tackled if our mother Earth is to continue to be liveable.

Bob Couch Adelaide Advertiser

2 September 2020

Growth has limits

Sue Dyer (Letters, August 24) doesn’t like the ACT Property Council’s wish for we Canberrans to pay local businesses $5000 for each new Canberra resident arriving from Sydney, Melbourne, etc. Neither do I. She thinks there are better ways for the council to attract newcomers, by ensuring Canberra is a great place to live.

What Sue misses here is the council’s motivation. Its website frequently lauds population growth, which increases demand for houses and business premises, the beneficiaries being the property industry. We see the negative impacts of many years of growth in Sydney and Melbourne. Do we want that for Canberra? One problem is that growth temporarily creates artificially large commercial groups that are dependent on that growth continuing. One example is our construction industry which is attuned to pre COVID-19 annual national population increase of around 400,000.

If the impossibility of never ending growth is not publicly recognised our cities will become crowded, overpopulated centres struggling to survive economically, socially, and environmentally; not “great places to live”.

For Canberra as an inland city, its future growth (and that of other large Murray Darling Basin towns) must be measured against the availability of MDB water during droughts.

Vincent Patulny Canberra Times

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