Monday, July 09, 2007

Optimum Population?

I've been taking a bit of flak at work over my recent ramblings on population - here.

By sheer coincidence, since that post on July 1st, I've heard several radio pieces on this very subject - one on Woman's Hour, and one on the Today programme (sorry, I am completely addicted to Radio 4).

Woman's Hour had someone on from an organisation called Optimum Population - now, if the graph above doesn't scare you, go to their website (as linked) and watch that clock :-((

The programme was debating the impact of population growth and - I thought anyhow - there was a spirited defence of why the developed world needs to end its obsession with population growth as a precursor for economic success.

A few days later, to my partial dismay, the Today programme had a couple of interviewees on speaking about the very same subject - one being George Monbiot. Now, I mention dismay, because George Monbiot - whose unflinching willingness to tackle difficult issues with rationale argument I greatly admire - seemed to be reluctant to accept the need to tackle population growth ... I nearly choked on my cornflakes. He mentioned, from memory here, 'fingers being burnt' over this issue in the 1960's when population growth in the third world was held up as being unacceptable and that whole debate (back then) getting mixed up in birth control arguments and thus overtly moralistic overtones.

Okay, maybe all true, but I'm 43 (born in the 1960's) and am part of the generation that needs to face up to this issue ... I have no specific knowledge of such a debate (may just be my own ignorance?), and genuinely don't think that it negates the compelling need to tackle the issue again now ... most people of child-bearing age now weren't even born in the 1960's and have a different set of reference points which drive their outlook on the problems facing the world.

I certainly (still) think it's a debate that could do with even more air-time ...

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