Deal with population growth as well as climate change this earth day

21 April 2020

Media Releases 2020

Population growth is as much a threat to the integrity of Earth’s ecosystems as climate change and must be addressed with equal urgency, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

This Wednesday 22 April marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate change.

The first Earth Day saw huge rallies across the US. It led to important US legislation such as the Clean Air Act, as well as the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

SPA national president Ms Sandra Kanck says in the 50 years that Earth Day has been celebrated, global population has grown from 3.7 to 7.8 billion people, or more than doubled.

“In Australia, our population has risen from 12.5 to 25.5 million in that time; again, more than doubled”, says Ms Kanck.

“If other factors remain the same, doubling the population means you double the impact on Earth’s ecosystems. These ecosystems provide the life support that makes our world habitable for humans and enables the future of humanity.

“The past 50 years, however, has also seen a significant increase in consumption, which combined with doubling of the population, means the human growth agenda now imposes an ecological footprint that far exceeds Earth’s renewable capacity.”

Ms Kanck says this growth is destroying planetary systems, especially the ability to absorb our wastes, not least greenhouse gases.

“Climate change is an existential threat that demands the same kind of urgent action that we are seeing in response to the Covid-19 crisis,” she says.

“Nevertheless, we must look to the underlying causes (economic and population growth) and accept that climate action must go beyond the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

“Last year, Australia’s emissions grew by 1.5 per cent while our population grew by the same amount, despite a shift to renewables in the electricity sector. Population growth all too often offsets gains in other areas”, says Ms Kanck.

“There is no way that the world can support another three billion people by century’s end and keep within safe levels of temperature increase from climate change.”

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