Sunday, December 21, 2008

Suzuki on Population

Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Canada’s leading environmental expert, the internationally renowned David Suzuki,. When I turned the topic to global overpopulation I expected to hear the same waffle that virtually all politicians and economists spout. My expectation was based on the Suzuki Foundation website and discussions with several Foundation managers: in no way whatsoever does population play a part of their campaigns or strategy. The topic is shunned, as it is by virtually all environmental organizations.

To my surprise Suzuki discussed the issue openly and frankly. “A growing population makes almost every environmental problem worse,” he said. He was careful to distinguish between the different problems that face developed and developing nations. The footprint of a North American is many times that of someone from China or India he emphasized, so consumption is a big part of the equation. Suzuki feels Canadians and Americans need to decrease their environmental footprint by 80%. That’s a deep and painful cut that can’t be achieved without also decreasing population growth.

The populations of Canada and the United States, with less than 2.2 births per woman, will stabilize. But immigration, which makes up two-thirds of population growth, is a problem. Suzuki feels immigration should be decreased because it increases the ecofootprint of the immigrants to North American levels. A better method, he suggests, is to decrease immigration and spend far more on foreign aid, especially for womens’ education. He’s upset that there is not a single committee on population in federal government and says, “it’s a disgrace that Canada [and the United States] has no national population policy.”

When I asked about the future, Suzuki responded, “The world is going down the chute,” he said, “I’m old so it doesn’t matter to me. But it pisses me off that our grandchildren
will be affected.” It gave me a chill that one of the world’s most respected environmentalist has such a negative outlook.

For long-term survival it’s vital that we move to living in a state of equilibrium. And that includes consumption and population.

2 comments: said...

Does anyone have the feeling that our communication, here now and elsewhere in other moments, appears to be convoluted and confused because many too many of us do not yet recognize that the family of humanity literally lives within a modern version of an ancient edifice, the Tower of Babel? The new leviathan-like, distinctly human construction is not made of stone, but instead built out as a "house of cards". This colossal, artificially designed structure is noticeably pyramidal in shape, organized as a patently unsustainable pyramid scheme, and named the global political economy.

For the people who are the primary beneficiaries of such a scheme, the global economy is effectively an object of idolatry. Nothing else really matters to them. These people are the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us. They could not care less about the natural world, life as we know it for the children and future generations, the integrity of Earth. You can readily recognize the idolaters as the leading, self-righteous elders of my "Not So GREAT GREED GRAB Generation". Endlessly consuming and hoarding resources as well as power-mongering are regarded as religious rituals.

Any thoughts?

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001

VivKay said...

Not even environmental groups usually acknowledge population growth. It is a taboo subject and they don't want to "offend" people and lose supporters. It must be a no-brainer that more people mean more jobs are needed, more environmental impacts, more pollution, more livestock and more greenhouse gas emissions. We can't have exponential population growth on finite resources - and our planet is not expanding but diminishing!