Earth Day 2023: Invest in our planet by stabilising then reducing population numbers
In the lead-up to Earth Day 2023, Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has called for stabilising, then reducing, population numbers, globally and nationally.
The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Invest in our Planet.” April 22, Earth Day, marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970, initiated by US Senator Gaylord Nelson.
SPA national president Ms Jenny Goldie says it is now widely recognised that the world faces two major crises: climate change and biodiversity collapse.
“Overpopulation is a major cause of both crises,” says Ms Goldie. “Too many people are using too many resources and creating too much waste. Carbon dioxide, the waste product of burning fossil fuels, is the major cause of climate change which is already causing significant changes to the Earth’s biosphere.
“People need to be housed and fed, and the combination of urban development and clearing native vegetation for agriculture is destroying habitats of other species, driving many animals and plants to extinction.”
SPA believes stabilising global population is not enough; it must be reduced by voluntary means until ecological sustainability is reached.
“We now have eight billion people on the Earth and more than half of them are very poor, needing more resources per person. Several scientific studies suggest we should get back to two billion or less if everyone is to live a life where all their needs, such as food, shelter, education, medical care and recreation, are met,” says Ms Goldie.
“We can do that if we make contraception universally available, educate women and achieve gender equality. In some places, cultural expectations need to change such that small families become the norm.
“With climate change bearing down on us, however, the carrying capacity of the Earth may be steadily reduced and the need to reduce our numbers will become far more urgent. Extreme weather events are already wiping out crops, as we saw last year in Pakistan when flood waters covered a third of the country. We saw the same in Australia three years ago when drought then bushfires devastated crops and livestock.
“Some countries have already started a slow decline in population, notably Japan. Here, the associated problems, such as ageing, have been overstated and the benefits, such as improved housing affordability and less pressure on the environment, have been ignored. Despite, or maybe because of, its falling population, Japan remains the world’s second-largest developed economy.”