10th anniversary of Kelvin Thomson’s global population speech
Tomorrow it will be exactly 10 years since I spoke to the Parliament describing increasing population as the underlying cause of the world’s problems.
I listed each of them – global warming, food crisis, water shortages, housing affordability, overcrowded cities, traffic congestion, species extinctions, fisheries collapse, increasing prices, waste, terrorism and war – and described the role that population growth was playing in fuelling them.
Sadly in the ten years since I gave that speech population growth has continued unabated, and I can’t claim that the speech has had any effect on it.
But the speech has certainly stood the test of time. Every thing I pointed out ten years ago remains valid and has been vindicated by the growing problems and turmoil that we see around us.
To give just one example, water shortages are now even more acute than they were in 2009. Ten days ago a New York Times report (“A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises”) said that World Resources Institute researchers had found that among cities with more than 3 million people, 33 of them, with a combined population of over 255 million, face extremely high water stress, with repercussions for both public health and social unrest.
Even worse, by 2030 the number of those cities in the extremely high stress category is expected to rise to 45 and include nearly 470 million people. Clearly the World Resources Institute doesn’t believe either the engineering solutions of the technological optimists, or the consume less/waste less exhortations of the social justice warriors, are going to actually prevent this debacle.
The one area where Australia has taken a different path from the one I predicted has been the question of price rises. Prices have risen less than I expected, largely because our mass migration program has put downward pressure on wages and caused them to be stagnant. Of course the effect on living standards, which was my concern, has been the same. As the ABC economics writer Carrington Clarke observed in 2017, the reason Australians have been concerned that their living standards haven’t been rising is because they haven’t, while migration has enabled Governments to pretend we have been recession free and that the economy is improving.
The link from my speech in 2009 is here. We continue to go down a totally unsustainable path and ordinary people have less control over their lives than ever before. It’s time we started to take it back.