Image for The People Problem in Global Warming is Shunned

*Pic: From HERE

Another in our series on New Zealand ... with whom Tasmania shares so much, from Gondwana to 1080…  New Zealander Tony Orman, former town planner, journalist and author, muses over the uncontrolled race for growth and more people

New Zealand is poised to hit the 5 million people mark soon. The announcement underlines the myth of growth and more people simply for growth’s sake. It is not beneficial - it’s a path to degradation of society, quality of life and resources.

Take global warming as example. The proverbial butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker, even scientists, cannot agree on global warming. But when “the tumult and the shouting dies and the Captains and the Kings depart” there remains one rarely debated factor - people.

Strangely the contribution of people to global warming has been ignored. Instead politicians and bureaucrats have tossed up scapegoats either as a deliberate diversion, (not unlike flag referendums) or perhaps out of sheer ignorance.

Dairy cows have been blamed. In 2007 director general of the Department of Conservation Al Morrison, bizarrely tried to incriminate wild deer alleging they were guilty of farting and belching.

Animals can’t argue back in defence, people do. Deer and cows don’t vote but people do. Therein lies the cause of the problem.

Humans or more particularly numbers of people, are the primary cause.

People fart and belch just like cows and deer. Furthermore people drive cars which belch emissions and jet planes fart “gases and particles —which contribute to climate change.” Humans demand resources, flush toilets, use chemicals and throw away garbage. Deer and cows don’t.

The more people the greater demand for resources, more cars and planes - more emissions.

Why does Man turn a blind eye to the cause of the problem? Surely any environmental problem is simply symptomatic not the root cause?

Controversial author Paul Erlich warned about the people crisis in his book “The Population Bomb” published in 1968 - almost half a century ago. And in New Zealand about the same time as Erlich, there were warnings from a few enlightened environmentalists such as “Save Manapouri” conservationist and deerstalkers association president John B Henderson who wrote in a speech “surely we cannot argue for there being any virtue in further proliferating the hordes of humanity?”

Western countries like New Zealand should be leaders to address the ticking “population time bomb”. Reducing birth rates in “affluent/effluent” industrialised countries will have a bigger impact on greenhouse gas emissions, depleted resources and environmental erosion because affluent societies use more of the earth’s resources and depend more heavily on fossil fuels.

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) briefly commented acknowledging that “Globally, economic and population growth continued to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.”  But that was lost in the clouds of hot air emitted by the global warming debate.

In New Zealand the hot air emitted reached hyperbolic heights while decades of politicians have blithely boasted of GDP and population growth rates seeming oblivious and unconcerned our population is just under five million.

Five million is significant for John Henderson in 1970 said “it is high time New Zealanders set themselves an upper limit—I have no hesitation in tabling my own estimate - it is 5 million people.”

But New Zealand still has no population policy. Government pursues growth with a maniacal passion and no control. “Maximum growth - more people” is the mantra. Serious regional imbalances exist, most graphically illustrated by Auckland city busting at the seams, demanding more money for congested roads and building highways, upgrading of sewers and stormwaters etc., and sprawling outwards over fertile soils.

Immigration proceeds apace swelling numbers and diluting and eroding the Kiwi culture evolved from two ethnic groups and developing a bi-cultural society.

All that’s needed to address the spiraling crisis is political will and political guts. Amazingly New Zealand’s Green Party who you might expect to champion addressing the ticking population bomb have been relatively quiet. Only NZ First has drawn attention to immigration.

Google “population clock”. The following statistics came up for New Zealand:-

• one birth every 9 minutes

• one death every 15.7 minutes

• a net migration gain of one person every 7.6 minutes

In April, Statistic New Zealand announced immigration figures were at a record high. New Zealand had a net gain of 56,000 migrants in the year to March, 75 percent up on the previous 12 months.

It said “ It’s expected annual net migration will surpass 60,000 by the end of the year if nothing is changed.” Sixty thousand equates to the population of Nelson or or more than Rotorua’s every 12 months. Auckland alone gets net 34,000 coming into the bursting conurbation.

But the sharp reality is more people and more consumers equal more resource demand, force more costly infrastructure demand and make more emissions. More, more and more.

The planet cannot tolerate infinite growth. It’s already at a crisis.

*Tony Orman (MNZIS) is a former town planner, life-long conservationist (‘wise use of resources’), journalist and author of over 20 books.