Political parties must acknowledge population growth as a leading cause of biodiversity loss

9 May 2019

Media Releases 2019

In response to the sweeping U.N. report that says one million species are at risk of extinction, Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) urges our federal and state governments and political parties to urgently acknowledge that population growth is a leading cause of biodiversity loss.

The report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was compiled by nearly 150 authors from 50 nations, working for three years. Each member nation signed off on the findings.

The UN report says humanity’s burgeoning growth is putting the world’s biodiversity at perilous risk. Up to $577 billion in annual global crops could be affected by pollinator loss.

The report lists a number of key global threats, including climate change, invasive species and pollution, but the biggest threat is habitat loss and modification, which is largely a factor of agricultural and urban expansion, both of which are a function of population growth.

“Since 1992, the world’s urban areas have more than doubled,” says Ms Kanck.

“Population growth, along with increasing consumption, are the number one drivers of this calamitous loss of biodiversity,” she says. “Governments must not only adopt much stronger environmental laws, but be far more accountable. They must remove all incentives for large families and do their best to rein in population growth within their borders.”

Global population stands at 7.7 billion people and continues to grow at 82 million a year. Australia currently grows by nearly 400,000 annually.

“Australia has an appalling record on habitat and vegetation clearance. We clear more land than just about every other country. This has to stop.”

Ms Kanck says humanity faces an existential threat, particularly in light of this UN report, yet nothing has entered the political debate in the lead-up to the current federal election.

“Most parties and candidates are blithely advocating further population growth and consumption, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we have greatly exceeded the carrying capacity of our continent.”

“Everyone must understand that the whole human economy depends on the health of the natural world yet, with this UN report, we now know the natural world is in dire straits.”


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