The Environment and Population

11 December 2007

CHARTERED INSTITUTION OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: CIWEM BUSINESS BRIEFING. October 2007

POPULATION IS AN ISSUE THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED

In a recent poll, nearly 80 percent of CIWEM members agreed that there needs to be a population policy as part of a strategy for action on climate change. Human population growth is acknowledged widely as one of the main causes of climate change, with rising consumption levels outstripping the biological capacity of the Earth by 25 percent each year. If all countries achieved UK levels of wealth, the global population would need the natural resources of four or five more planets. This is not the model of a sustainable world that will achieve social justice and harmony.

With the global population projected to rise from six billion to 9.2 billion in 2050, CIWEM believes that politicians and environmentalists must confront the real challenge of climate change.

CIWEM Executive Director, Nick Reeves, says: ‘Scratch the surface of any environmental problem and it is not hard to see that population is a root cause. Politicians see big populations as an indicator of economic strength, but large populations contribute to an environmental footprint which is unsustainable, making them ever more reliant on techno-fix solutions that can barely keep pace with the problems they are meant to solve. It is time they recognised that unfettered population growth leads to environmental disaster.’

‘There are many solutions to our environmental problems, and the gradual planned and sensitive reduction in population is surely one of them. If governments around the world are really committed to sustainability, it is time for a grown-up debate on an issue politicians avoid and on a problem that is unlikely to go away. How much longer can we continue with this rate of human growth, without something really scary happening?’

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