Invest in our planet by ending population growth
On this year’s Earth Day (Friday April 22) which has the theme ‘Invest in our Planet’, Sustainable Population Australia says the best way to invest in our planet is to end population growth nationally and globally.
Australia’s population growth fell to 0.3% (69,700 people) in September 2021, largely because of Covid-related border closures, from a high of 2.1% in March 2009 but is growing again as borders reopen. Global population is currently 7.9 billion and growing at 1.02%, or around 80 million annually.
SPA national president Ms Jenny Goldie says population growth demands ever more resources and energy and produces waste, including greenhouse gas emissions.
“Earth Day 2022 is focused on accelerating solutions to combat the threat of climate change and to activate everyone to do their part,” says Ms Goldie.
“We might have some hope of achieving our emission reduction targets if we did not have a constantly growing population. Indeed, SPA has recently produced a discussion paper on Population and Climate Change that demonstrates the impact of population growth on Australia’s emissions.
“It is critical that couples limit the number of children they have to two, that is, replace themselves only.
“If we are to achieve an end to population growth more quickly, however, having one child or remaining childless by choice must be seen as alternatives.
“In order to achieve this nationally we must provide affordable contraception to all who need it and age-appropriate sex education. We must not allow immigration to return to excessive pre-pandemic levels.
“In poorer countries, we must remember that having larger families exacerbates poverty. Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), not least ending poverty and hunger, will be far more likely if family sizes are smaller.
“Through our overseas aid program, we must ensure adequate money goes to family planning programs so all who need contraception can get it.
“Unfortunately, of Australia’s $4 billion aid budget, only $78 million is directed to the sexual and reproductive health program, and within that, only $32.5 million goes to family planning itself. Almost none of it goes to Africa where there is a critical need.”
Ms Goldie says there are many cultural reasons why people continue to have large families.
“The only way this can be overcome is through encouraging equality for women, education for girls and radio programs that change patriarchal attitudes such as those produced by the Population Media Centre in the US.”