“Population must be discussed”

7 April 2007 | Leicester Mercury

The opportunity for this letter came from FJ Abraham’s letter to the Mercury concerning the absence of discussion of population changes in the “green debate”. His letter and my letter were given prominence at the top of the letter page.

The Mercury published the letter word for word, highlighted the first sentence, and gave it the title, “Population must be discussed”. In fact, no discussion followed.

The taboo, or semi-taboo, or consensus which prevents the population “explosion’ being debated in the national press is one of the most extraordinary examples of self-censorship in modern times.

We are fortunate that the Leicester Mercury felt able to give prominence to FJ Abraham’s excellent letter with the heading, ‘Population ignored in green debate’. (Mailbox, April 2) Population is ignored not only in the green debate but also in the debates on the causes of extreme poverty, of conflict, and of the migration of huge populations. Here are some figures from the United Nations Population Division 2006 revision:

Africa had a population of 224 million in 1950; this has now increased to 922 million, and is likely to be 1,717 million in 2050. Pakistan had a population of 37 million in 1950, 158 million now, and an estimated 250 million in 2050.

The 1950 figures and the estimated 2050 figures for some countries in the news are as follows: Afghanistan 8 million increasing to 70 million. Iraq 5 million increasing to 53 million. Saudi Arabia 3 million to 38 million. Palestinian Territory one million to nine million. Somalia 2 million to 18 million. For the region as a whole, Africa plus the Middle East to Pakistan, the figures are 306 million in 1950 and an estimated 2330 million in 2050.

This regional population increase is one of the most amazing events in human history. It inevitably causes areas of extreme poverty and conflict and yet it interests almost no one in the national media, or in politics, or in the groups who campaign about poverty and conflict in this region. A time is coming when this lack of interest will be recognised as a major mistake.

Dr Gerald Danaher