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Are we really doomed?

Many people are rightly concerned about the world’s growing population and its dwindling resources and if they aren’t, they should be.

As of August 2016, world population was estimated at 7.4 billion. The United Nations estimates it will further increase to 9 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in the year 2100.

But this doesn’t have to be and we don’t have to rely on plagues, famine, enforced sterilisation or murder to curb growth.

“Unsustainable population growth can only be effectively and ethically addressed by empowering women to become pregnant only when they themselves choose to do so.”

Examples from around the world demonstrate effective policies that not only reduce birth rates, but also respect the reproductive aspirations of parents and support an educated and economically active society that promotes the health of women and girls. Most of these reproduction policies are relatively inexpensive to implement, yet in many places they are opposed on the basis of cultural resistance and political infeasibility.

Eschewing the language and approaches of “population control” or the idea that anyone should pressure women and their partner on reproduction, Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman outlines nine strategies that could put human population on an environmentally sustainable path:

  • Provide universal access to safe and effective contraceptive options for both sexes. With nearly two in five pregnancies reported as mistimed or never wanted, lack of access to good family planning services is among the biggest gaps in assuring that each baby will be wanted and welcomed in advance by its parents.
  • Guarantee education through secondary school for all, especially girls. In every culture surveyed to date, women who have completed at least some secondary school have fewer children on average, and have children later in life, than do women who have less education.
  • Eradicate gender bias from law, economic opportunity, health, and culture. Women who can own, inherit, and manage property; divorce; obtain credit; and participate in civic and political affairs on equal terms with men are more likely to postpone childbearing and to have fewer children compared to women who are deprived of these rights.
  • Offer age-appropriate sexuality education for all students. Data from the United States indicate that exposure to comprehensive programs that detail puberty, intercourse, options of abstinence and birth control, and respecting the sexual rights and decisions of individuals, can help prevent unwanted pregnancies and hence reduce birth rates.
  • End all policies that reward parents financially based on the number of children they have. Governments can preserve and even increase tax and other financial benefits aimed at helping parents by linking these not to the number of children they have, but to parenthood status itself.
  • Integrate lessons on population, environment, and development into school curricula at multiple levels. Refraining from advocacy or propaganda, schools should educate students to make well-informed choices about the impacts of their behavior, including childbearing, on the environment.
  • Put prices on environmental costs and impacts. In quantifying the cost of an additional family member by calculating taxes and increased food costs, couples may decide that the cost of having an additional child is too high, compared to the benefits of a smaller family that might receive government rebates and have a lower cost of living. Such decisions, freely made by women and couples, can decrease birth rates without any involvement by non-parents in reproduction.
  • Adjust to an aging population instead of boosting childbearing through government incentives and programs. Population aging must be met with the needed societal adjustments, such as increased labor participation, rather than by offering incentives to women to have more children.
  • Convince leaders to commit to stabilizing population growth through the exercise of human rights and human development. By educating themselves on rights-based population policies, policymakers can ethically and effectively address population-related challenges by empowering women to make their reproductive choices.

If most or all of these strategies were put into effect, Engelman argues, global population likely would peak and subsequently begin a gradual decline before 2050, thereby ensuring sustainable development of natural resources and global stability into the future. By implementing policies that defend human rights, promote education, and reflect the true economic and environmental costs of childbearing, the world can halt population short of the 9 billion that so many analysts expect.

14 million girls are married before the age of 18 every year. In the developing world, poverty and traditional gender roles magnify this problem. 1 in 7 girls is married before age 15, and some child brides are married as young as 9 years old.

Each year, an estimated 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth. Only 35% of unmarried girls and women in developing countries use a modern method of contraception — so most teen pregnancies are unplanned.

For every dollar spent on family planning, governments can save up to 6 dollars on health, housing, water and other public services. Family planning enables millions of girls to stay in school, saves lives and has the capacity to lift entire communities out of poverty.

31 million girls in the world don’t have the opportunity to pursue an education. Every day, they are taken out of school and forced to work or marry. One out of five girls in the developing world doesn’t even complete the sixth grade.

When girls have the opportunity to complete their education through secondary school, they are up to six times less likely to be married as children than girls with little or no education. Educated girls are also less likely to have unintended pregnancies as teenagers.

Educated girls and women are healthier, have the skills to make choices over their own future and can lift themselves, their communities and their countries out of poverty. Even one more year in school makes a difference.

Poverty is also a factor in people having large families due to previous high infant mortality rates and the need for more hands to help work. Wealth eventually stops procreation in its tracks, a fact demonstrated by countries as diverse as Italy and Japan.

Most religions are going to have to do some soul-searching and change their views about women and the sacredness of sperm.


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  1. Miriam English

    Excellent article Kaye.

    There is also the point that uncertainty and lack of social safety net cause explosions in birth rate. A couple, knowing that there is no social safety net to ensure their survival into old age will have a lot of children so that they can be certain there will be someone to look after the children and the parents themselves as they age. This is further worsened when medical help is not free and is unobtainably expensive (and restricting medical help naturally pushes prices up because doctors need to earn the same income on less patients — and that’s before considering the costs of a massive insurance industry making additional money from it too). Having numerous children increases the chances that some will survive. Low standard of living also contributes to the problem. When you don’t have books or electric lights to read them by, you don’t have radio or TV or computers, then there is always one reliable form of entertainment available in the dark of the evening. Unfortunately it results in more children.

    As Kaye said, education is pivotal, especially education of girls and women. Women’s rights are a natural part of that. This always has a dramatic effect on population growth. We must pay attention also to social safety nets, free medical care, and increased standard of living. All together these changes have the potential to stop the population juggernaut in its tracks, and actually reverse it.

    So we’re okay, right? We don’t need to worry about these measures? We just need to impose them upon the third world, right? Wrong. Imposing things doesn’t work. It reeks of paternalism and colonialism and would generate hate and opposition to those measures. We in the first world need to embrace these things enthusiastically ourselves. Firstly, because they are intrinsically good things anyway, but also because the third world will naturally emulate the successes of the first world. (This is also why we need to rapidly move to renewable energy: it is a good thing on its own, but also helps the more populous parts of the world move to less damaging energy sources.)

  2. Andreas Bimba

    Excellent article Kaye. This road map makes good sense but I don’t particularly like the recommensation that benefits received by families be independent of the number of children, perhaps instead 3rd and subsequent children should earn half the benefit?

    Just like in the developed world, economics is vitally important and if we can ensure for ourselves full employment, more equality, environmental sustainability, a vibrant creative economy and high quality universal health care and social welfare this path will be adopted in the developing world.

    The developing world should not be forced down the globalisation path by the developed world’s capital controlling elites to just be the sweat shop or cheap commodity suppliers to the world. A better approach is greater self sufficiency, avoidance of foreign currency loans, international aid in education and sustainable economic development, fair trade and some market access and economic stimulus by the national government as per Modern Monetary Theory economic principles.

  3. Harquebus

    Well done Kaye Lee.
    I am gob smacked.
    Thank you.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Andreas, I too thought about that one because it is the children who suffer when families get less but I understand the rationale behind it. It would be reasonable to reduce amounts for subsequent children because you already have a lot of the stuff and can reuse it for the next kid. I also have worried greatly about some young girls who have thought the baby bonus to be a lot of money that would help in the short term. I will think more on this but it is about encouraging desired behaviour.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Do you mean this isn’t a guest post from H’? ?

  6. Kaye Lee


    You’re welcome. Just so you know, I have written about this before – some of it repeated in this article. This was the previous one.

    Investing in women to save the world

    Michael, I got sick of waiting.

    We CAN care about more than one thing at once and we CAN come up with ideas to at least improve things, even if not perfect solutions.

  7. townsvilleblog

    The short answer is ‘yes’ we are doomed, unless or until every nation on Earth, including Australia brings in a “no more than 3 children per family” law. Australia’s sustainable population is 22 million people and we are already 2 million people in excess of the sustainable number. Our federal government could legislate this, or they could spend the billions required in water storage systems such as the building of hydro-electric dams that would provide both water and power for our populations.

    Townsville is the largest city in northern Australia and we are on Level 3 water restrictions because we haven’t had a wet season since cyclone Yasi and water is running low for the city of 200,000 people with other smaller towns in North Qld in similar positions, pumping water from the Burdekin Falls Dam costs $27,000 per day so we are completely buggered unless or until it rains.

    Why would you be bring more people to the driest populated continent on Earth? It’s ridiculous.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Australia is in an awkward position. Many would argue that we have room for many more people – which we do – and I for one would like to see our refugee intake increased, but our ecology (in its current ‘form’) can only sustain a population of five million. We can of course do something about that. But economically we need more people.

    Let me explain.

    All the baby-boomers are soon to retire and this will place an enormous strain on the budget. People who are now in their 60s did not have access to superannuation like today’s workers do, and as such many of them will be reliant on the age pension. I read somewhere that over the next five years there will be less people entering the workforce than those retiring from it. (Key word ‘retiring’). With less income tax coming in and more pension money going out, the budget is going to take a massive hit. The only way around this is to increase our working population. This can only be achieved in two ways: create more industry, and the contentious one: increase our migrant intake.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Look for the real cause of your problems townsvilleblog. Burning fossil fuels is what is ridiculous yet people suffering the drought in Queensland want to open more mines and blame migrants. It makes no sense. Our fertility rate is less than replacement value. Stop panicking. On one issue we could agree though – the government should be addressing paying for our aging population through getting everyone here employed rather than importing workers.

    Rainfall patterns are changing. We have to adjust accordingly. As for more hydro, it requires very specific landscape to make it possible. You can’t just do it anywhere. Same with Barnaby’s dams. He doesn’t consider porous land bases and evaporation rates or any of those other considerations let alone the environmental damage dams can cause. Barnaby’s approach is stop this science bullshit, let’s get er done. He is an ignoramus who might be fun to have a beer with but who should never be put in a decision-making role.

  10. Harquebus

    That is business as usual and a recipe for disaster. Ever increasing populations for the sole purpose of caring and paying for the previous is a population ponzie scheme.

    “If we don’t halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity – and will leave a ravaged world.” — Dr. Henry W. Kendall

    The baby boomers are just going to have to wear it.


  11. Jack Straw

    Dare I say it but the solution is always Education. Though The Neoliberalist’s Conservatives Capitalist’s want you to pay handsomely for it. Remember nothings for free; user pay’s especially an Education.

  12. Kaye Lee

    We actually have Howard to blame for our current concerns in this regard as well as everything else he and Costello stuffed up with their short term thinking……

    Australia’s ‘total fertility rate’ (TFR, the average number of children per woman) fell below 2.1 in 1975, after the popularisation of the contraceptive pill from the 1960s. A TFR of 2.1 is considered to be the ‘replacement rate’, when children are just numerous enough to replace the parents’ generation, allowing for some early deaths. However, natural increase continues for decades after achieving below-replacement fertility, because today’s deaths are mostly among the great-grandparents of today’s babies, and the great-grandparents are less numerous because they had larger families. This continuation of growth is called ‘demographic momentum’.

    Since European settlement, Australia’s population grew rapidly through waves of immigration. However, the scale of immigration over the past decade has reached unprecedented levels. The average net immigration for the twentieth century was 52,000 per year. The average for the past decade (to Sept 2015) has been 214,000 per year.

    From 2004, the Howard Government embarked on a program to increase population growth. The “baby bonus” was introduced to encourage couples to have more children, supported by a propaganda campaign about the risks of an ageing population. The federal treasurer at the time, Peter Costello famously told Australians to “have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”. In addition, immigration quotas were steadily increased and temporary residence programs for both students and workers were expanded.

    The result has been a vast demographic experiment. It was supposed to reduce skills shortages, increase productivity and improve government balance sheets, allowing them to deliver better infrastructure and social services. The opposite has been achieved on all counts. The wider negative impacts have become the leading concerns of Australians in electoral surveys: job insecurity, housing unaffordability and infrastructure congestion. Yet few Australians realise the cause of these escalating stresses.

    Before this change in government policy, Australia’s population was on course to stabilise around 25 million (Intergenerational Report 2002-03). A decade earlier, an inquiry by the Australian Academy of Science had concluded, “In our view, the quality of all aspects of our children’s lives will be maximized if the population of Australia by the mid-21st Century is kept to the low, stable end of the achievable range, i.e. to approximately 23 million.”

  13. Jack Straw

    We need to reduce our immigration levels here also. Get this right here first them we can help other countries with their issues,

    That is business as usual and a recipe for disaster. Ever increasing populations for the sole purpose of caring and paying for the previous is a population ponzie scheme.

    What are you saying here Harquebus???? Are you saying u want to kill off pensioners or something please expand??

  14. jack Straw

    Michael: We buy all the crap from China that we could easily make here. I will pay $ 15/$20 for a spanner made here instead of the Chinese crap for $4.Ban outsourcing jobs in Asia re call centres etc. There’s probably a million jobs right there. There so many simple solutions. We are just fighting an extreme capitalist ideology as this doesn’t work.

  15. Harquebus

    Jack Straw
    Pensioners are not going to have the lifestyle that they are accustomed to or expect. We will all be forced by the limitations of the natural world into very modest lifestyles.

    From a quick stroll through my browser’s history.

    “Unabated population growth in most circumstances prevents the successful ‘‘development’’ of societies and retards increasing per capita consumption, keeping most people from becoming more prosperous.”

    “World’s mammals being eaten into extinction, report warns”
    “The researchers said solving the problem of over-hunting will require greater legal protection for the species, empowering local communities to benefit from wildlife conservation, providing alternative foods and better education and family planning to curb population growth.”

    “Earth is being run dry; non-reusable resources are being depleted at a previously unconceivable rate; and many reusable resources are being used at a faster rate than they naturally can replenish themselves.”
    “The global crises such as pollution, water shortages, desertification, rising sea levels, global warming, animal species extinction, and economic failures and recessions are reactive issues precipitating from overpopulation itself.”
    “Nobody’s working on a real solution. No one has the courage. Not U.N. leaders, scientists or billionaires. No one. It’s taboo. All part of a conspiracy of silence. But denial is killing us. The human race is in a suicidal run to self-destruction.”

  16. Kaye Lee

    This whole point of this article is to show that unabated population growth is NOT inevitable Harquebus.

    There is also a great deal of very interesting work being done on food sources. I think that sheep and cattle may become unsustainable eventually because of the environmental damage they do, but there are other things we can eat.

    Saying there is a “conspiracy of silence” about overpopulation and that no-one is working on solutions is patently bullshit.

  17. Jack Straw

    H You are probably right in your summation. Though writing this a offensive to Australian pensioners re

    That is business as usual and a recipe for disaster. Ever increasing populations for the sole purpose of caring and paying for the previous is a population ponzie scheme.

    Are kidding a ponzie scheme. Your piece is offensive. Make your case for the issue without the Shock tactics. again I have said this before write a piece without links. Write potential examples and your views on which I agree with your outlook. For the most part people on this site seem to understand the issues and are intelligent. You are saying to kill older people are you not? and if so Make this very clear. Do you care about human beings? What is your motivation. You can’t say that you are if your say we have a population problem and we need fix it then at the same time it’s population ponzie scheme. when should we all 50 or 60 what to you recommend?

  18. Jack Straw

    Harq; last phrase should say; when should we all die 50 or 60 what do you recommend?

  19. Michael Taylor

    H’, it’s not the baby boomers that’ll have to wear it, it’s the government that will. And if that’s the case, then the government will make everyone pay.

  20. diannaart

    From 2004, the Howard Government embarked on a program to increase population growth. The “baby bonus” was introduced to encourage couples to have more children, supported by a propaganda campaign about the risks of an ageing population. The federal treasurer at the time, Peter Costello famously told Australians to “have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”. In addition, immigration quotas were steadily increased and temporary residence programs for both students and workers were expanded.

    The result has been a vast demographic experiment. It was supposed to reduce skills shortages, increase productivity and improve government balance sheets, allowing them to deliver better infrastructure and social services. The opposite has been achieved on all counts. The wider negative impacts have become the leading concerns of Australians in electoral surveys: job insecurity, housing unaffordability and infrastructure congestion. Yet few Australians realise the cause of these escalating stresses.

    After introducing this ‘national fertility scheme’ the Howard government and consequential governments since have reduced public funding of hospitals, affordable housing schemes, public education, investment in manufacturing (new technology), transport, strategy for states to implement small grid power systems (thus reducing base load excesses) and so it goes…

    Paying people to have more children and then reneging on the very systems we need to support children or immigrants is patently stupid and now we reap what little we have sown.

    We don’t have perfect answers for every problem, we do have the ability to solve most of our problems. Globally, however, we cannot even do any of the above mentioned while women are still treated as chattel and exploited as such.

  21. Miriam English

    Harquebus, you miss the point. We can control the population. We don’t need laws to do it. And nobody need suffer if we do it properly. In fact, suffering leads to population increase.

  22. Kaye Lee

    I will never understand the point of posting endless links to articles saying overpopulation is bad. Duh! We need people with imagination, not people who have given up. Make suggestions. We know the problems, come up with some ideas.

    We should be reopening the debate about end of life choices but any mandatory culling scheme is unnecessary.

    As far as paying for an aging population is concerned, we should lessen skilled migration and train our own citizens to fill demand, We should make child care accessible and affordable. We should not be increasing the retirement age, instead getting young people into work. We should use retirees as mentors for people trying to start businesses or gain skills and value the role they play as carers and volunteers. We need to increase participation, not population. We should be encouraging ongoing education for the aged so they can have fulfilling, productive retirement years which are growing longer.

    There are many things we could be doing – it only takes the desire.

  23. Miriam English

    There is something beautifully subversive about a universe which in effect says to us:
    “You’ll survive only if you help the most vulnerable among you.”

  24. Jack Straw

    Kaye we use to train our own people and employ people here not overseas and for Australian companies to employ cheap labour. 2 solutions right there.

  25. diannaart

    Loving that, Miriam. Needs to be tattooed on the forehead of every politician and big business CEO.

  26. Karl Young

    Lovely Miriam You have en-captured it all. Human’s are only but one part of the kog.

  27. Kaye Lee

    As little as I am enamoured with Julie Bishop, she made an interesting observation the other day. In the morning she was at a meeting with male leaders, her being the only woman. That evening she met with a female only group of leaders (Foreign Ministers I think?). She said the meetings were very different – at the first one everyone was belligerently trying to impose their own agenda whereas at the second everyone was looking for common ground from which unified action could grow.

    I am reminded of when Liberal MP Sharman Stone said that Question Time should be done away with.

    “At least four hours a day are spent on rubbish, just screaming matches between the boys,” Dr Stone said. “Do away with all of that. We need women in the place who will say: ‘Enough of time-wasting’. The public is over it. They look at Parliament, they see it as time-wasting, totally confrontational, men versus men screaming at each other to see who can get thrown out the quickest,”

    It is dangerous to generalise on gender lines, but ….

  28. Harquebus

    I don’t want to start arguments over what I consider to be a very good article. I only put up some links for information and discussion.

    The future has arrived and payment is due. Either way, we will all pay. It is now a matter of how fair will it be. The current political climate suggests that it will be, as usual, unfair.
    BTW: I also am a baby boomer. Information gleaned over time from the author leads me to think that she is one year older than me.

    Jack Straw
    The population ponzie scheme is the population problem.
    You are making absurd assumptions and putting words in my mouth.

    Yes but, will we?


  29. diannaart

    @Kaye Lee

    All part of the “great” adversarial system that operates here.

    It’s time to change to collaborative systems – except for Labor and the LNP – we can create a reality TV program for them where they can yell at each other, blame each other, but the public gets to vote them off every week.

  30. Kaye Lee

    I will be 59 next month. Do you have any suggestions on how to address any of the problems we are facing Harquebus? Or will you remain the eternal bell-ringer long after others have put their shoulder to the wheel?

    Political survivor? I like it 🙂

  31. Miriam English

    Well put, Kaye. I forget what the number of unemployed and underemployed is now, but it is disturbingly enormous. We need more chance to participate. Retirees are almost always happy to help — mentoring, child-minding, creating more culture (writing books, making videos, artworks, murals, etc).

    All this value is being let go to waste in unemployed, underemployed, and retired people. We don’t need to be forced to work. Countless studies show that people love to contribute when given the chance.

    We need to invest in our people again instead of giving advantages to overseas corporations or wealthy sociopaths who won’t give us the steam off their shit, let alone pay their taxes. But then the pack of morons in charge of the country like the corrupt donations to their “private causes” too much to do what’s in the best interests of the country.

  32. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee

    Okay, I’ll divulge. I turned 58 two months ago.

    If I had my way which, I won’t, I would implement zero births globally for a decade and then a one child policy until the global population is reduced to at least less than a billion. I know this is not going to happen.

    My solutions are general and I have posted them before.

    1: Forget economics. It is “fatally” flawed. It has polluted the planet, poisoned us all, does not factor physics nor the environment and is what has got us into this mess in the first place.
    2: Implement national and encourage international population reduction strategies otherwise, one way or another, nature will drag us back to sustainable levels and it won’t be pretty.
    3: Properly manage our finite resources which, are currently being pillaged.
    4: Reduce consumption using quotas and not with unfair taxation. We can not shop our way to sustainability and we can not borrow our way to prosperity.
    5: Plant lots and lots of trees. Massive scale reforestation will help the climate, rainfall and be a valuable renewable resource for future generations.
    6: Restore the liberties and freedoms stolen from us by corporate serving politicians.


  33. Jack Straw

    Ponzi Scheme

    a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a non-existent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.
    “a classic Ponzi scheme built on treachery and lies”

    Ponzi Scheme
    Scam in which a gullible group is enticed with the promise of very high returns in a very short time, but is based on paying off the early ‘investors’ from the cash from (hopefully ever increasing number of) new ‘investors.’ The whole structure collapses when the cash outflow exceeds the cash inflow. The originators of the scheme, however, usually disappear with large sums a few days before the crash. Named after Charles Ponzi (1882-1949), an Italian immigrant to the US who, during 1919-20 collected more than fifteen million dollars from some 40,000 eager people by promising to double their investment in 90 days.

    Harquebus your an idiot

    i had you pegged for 18 with pimples

  34. Kaye Lee

    Harquebus, you should read Dan Brown’s novel “Inferno” – you’d enjoy it. The one actual suggestion you made (the others are goals/aspirations, not pathways) even you concede won’t happen and it is inhumane/impractical in the extreme. Are you suggesting mass abstinence? Mass abortions? Sterilising agents in the water supply of the whole planet and sabotaging water tanks?

    I am not interested in constant wailing. I want to get on with doing what we can and learning more all the time. Get back to me when you have some suggestions that might be viable.

  35. Iain Wicking

    The consumerist debt fueled growth model is doomed to collapse. We could harness technology more effectively and in a superior way to out-compete our competitors and also deliver superior outcomes for our community. Economic wealth is only created by out-competing other national competitors and this is done via the acquisition, manipulation and management of technology. The means to do this exists but the cost down, debt financing model is deeply ingrained. Current thinking is destructive and primitive.

  36. Harquebus

    Any chance of checking theAIMN rabbit hole for my comment that just disappeared down it?
    Thanks in advance.

  37. Michael Taylor

    H’, I just took a look for you and I can’t find anything.

  38. Anomander

    Overopulation is only part of the problem. We should be equally concerned about the quantity of resources we all consume.

    Our global footprint is enormous, around 8.5 hectares per person.

    We all consume more far resources than the Earth can keep generating – they have to run out at some time, and when they do, we are all in deep, deep shit.

  39. Harquebus

    There is something in a comment that I am trying to post that is not letting it through.
    I am directed to this page:
    ” It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. ”

    I am including the links for testing purposes only.

    Family Planning and Women’s Empowerment

    Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – Planned Sterilization of Humanity?

    Okay, nothing wrong with the links. I will try again.

  40. Peter Strachan

    A good summary that is both descriptive of the issue and prescriptive for solutions or ways forward. Sustainable Australia has a broad platform of policies, and what Robert Engleman proposes is very much akin to the stated policies on this issue by Sustainable Australia.

  41. Andreas Bimba

    Iain Wicking. I know this is off topic but I wanted to respond to your comment about out competing other nations. This is one path for Australia but not the only path. Nations like Australia that are potentially self sufficient in almost everything can erect moderate tariff barriers to ensure survival of local industries that are considered to be worth retaining. We always did this in the past up until the neoliberal era when trade protection was just deemed to be wrong.

    Local competition and moderate import penetration ensure adequate levels of productivity. Most East Asian nations operate this way, even with FTA’s they restrict imports and develop a few industries to a high level that export globally.

    The current neoliberal approach of Australia where we have FTA’s with low wage and high technology capable nations is unfortunately a race to the bottom for us as we cannot in general out compete the competition apart from a few agile or knowledge intensive businesses and sectors such as mining and bulk agriculture which unfortunately employ relatively few.

    Take the example of car manufacturing which is my background. The manufacturing cost of a car like the Toyota Camry is about equal in Australia, Japan, the U.S. and Europe. The problem is that the Toyota plant in Thailand, which is almost identical to the Australian Toyota Altona plant, can produce a car for about 10% less due to lower labour and government imposed costs. Technological levels are about equal. With the Thailand Australia FTA it is simply more profitable for Toyota to import. If we want to manufacture cars locally we need a 15% tariff or the equivalent ongoing subsidy. This is why federal industrial policy is so important. Don’t expect the multinational car companies to lobby for a tariff. It is a decision for the Australian government and people.

    Globalisation as it is practised in Australia is just wrong as it only benefits the large corporations and will progressively squander our living standard advantage relative to nations like Thailand, Indonesia and China as well as produce huge levels of unemployment.

  42. Alan Baird

    It’s not fun being stuck between typing something virtuous, perhaps leading toward a solution to the problem and, on the other hand, typing something totally cynical, such as “we’re all fcuked and far from home”, (which seems strangely appropriate). My cynical side always wins but. The problem is that there are enormous numbers of influential people who don’t believe over-population is a problem. Demographers love it and are always yelling encouragement to breed faster to make up for transitional humps and hollows in the human production line to oblivion. ALWAYS on the “increase” side but. HEAPS of pollies do, even on the so-called left (or what is left of left). Religion has been encouraging it for evah! Even the commos in China have said enough! There was an industry in China devoted to getting rid of the girls so as to give parents have another go for a boy. No doubt there are millions of Chinese males sizing up marital opportunities and feeling glum at the mysterious deficit of females. I’ll BET it never occurred to their proud parents what they were setting up. Nah! We’re all rooted. Appropriate and so Australian.

  43. Harquebus

    “Like many other experts, he argues that we have passed the peak of oil production, and it’s all downhill from now on. He then presents evidence that we have passed the peaks for water, fertilizer and land, and that we will all soon be made painfully aware that we have passed it for food, as wealthy nations experience shortages and rising prices, and poorer ones starve.”

  44. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    I tried several times to submit a comment but, for some unknown reason which, I tried over two days to resolve, your page would not accept it. Michael Taylor can confirm. Note the test comment that I posted. After that, the conversation had moved on so, so did I.
    I have bookmarked this page and intend to add to it as I come across related articles. If you do not want this to happen, please let me know.

  45. Kaye Lee

    I would prefer to diccuss it rather than links to endless articles. I asked before “Are you suggesting mass abstinence? Mass abortions? Sterilising agents in the water supply of the whole planet and sabotaging water tanks?”

    Without linking to an article, could you answer that? The reason I am asking is not to ridicule you but to ask you to think about the practicality of suggestions you make.

    We are all aware of the problems to which you continually refer but we are asking for practical, implementable suggestions on how to move forward. No need to keep ringing the bell unless you have some ideas.

    PS I sometimes have trouble posting comments too if there is a large copy and paste – gremlins.

  46. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Here is the beginning of the post that kept failing. I did try to respond.

    Your article states what needs to be done and is not in question. Although I have my own ideas, I am open to suggestions as to how we go about it. You have already stated some.
    You advocate education as a solution, that’s fine. We are on common ground on this one, for once and I will support you. I do think that a combination of strategies will be required.

    I prefer to think of my list as requirements rather than as aspirations.

  47. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    You’re education is compatible with my raising awareness.
    I doubt that there will be many more conversing on this page however, I will not post links as you prefer. A pity as it would have been a handy place to refer to in future discussions.

    BTW: There are three links that I posted above for you, sorry, in the comment addressed to theAIMN.


  48. Miriam English

    It’s good that you’ll refrain from scattergun-posting links here Harquebus, especially if you post such absurdities as the crap about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and sterilisation. The GMO thing about sterilisation is ridiculous too. You say you want breeding reduced yet you post hysterical conspiracy theories of “Oh Woe! They’re sterilising us!” Just admit it. You love the hysteria and the fear. That is why you continually post links to tales of woe and fear.

    In fact the Gates Foundation is making available an implantable birth-control pill that will work for years and which the woman is able to switch on or off herself. She doesn’t need to have access to supplies of contraceptives or rely upon her partner to use condoms. It is a brilliant solution that puts fertility entirely under the woman’s own control.

    The genetically modified organism (GMO) thing focusses on GMO corn being the majority of the diet. The experiments were small and I haven’t heard of them being reproduced, but the problem was not so much one of sterility as general illness. It may be a potential problem that should definitely be investigated further. The fact that the article blows up the sterility angle shows the author’s paranoia. The fact that you, Harquebus link to it also shows your love of fear.

  49. Harquebus

    I wasn’t promoting Gates link nor any other. I was merely providing information for discussion but, my comment wasn’t being delivered. The above links were only for testing, I was not able to post them with the corresponding text.
    I really like you but, often your assumptions are wrong and you seem to want to jump on me at every opportunity.
    If it is the woman that can disable the fertility chip then good but, what if it is not. I would call that eugenics.

  50. Miriam English

    I have no argument with you, as a person, Harquebus, but your continual posting of hysterical conspiracy theories and constant ringing of the alarm bell really gets on my (and others’) nerves. If you talked about actual solutions, that would be different, but you don’t. Your “solutions” (on the rare occasion you can be pushed into venturing any) tend to merely restate the problems facing us.

    Are my assumptions wrong? If so, there is an easy way to prove that.

    If by “jumping on” you, you mean that I try not to let you get away with crap, then yes, but I don’t do so as often as I probably should. It is tiresome for me too. (And I try to have a life.)

    Yeah, the Gates Foundation spends hundreds of millions on preventing malaria, getting food to people and increasing their access to education… they obviously want to harm them. Riiight.

    Think, man. Don’t just gobble down the first crazy conspiracy pushed at you.

    Yesterday I spoke with an otherwise very intelligent guy who tried desperately to convince me that the Twin Towers were elaborately demolished by their owner who resorted to this because they were old and he couldn’t rebuild there because they were heritage-listed. Yeah, right. [rolls eyes] A landlord is going to throw away years of rent in the heart of New York, and concoct a hoax to divert attention from himself by sending other planes to crash into the Pentagon and the White House. It only takes a moment’s reflection to see how ridiculous such a conspiracy theory is, but the fellow I was talking to, though certainly not short on brains, never saw the absurdity. He was far too consumed by it. The feverish way he gleefully explained it to me showed how much in love he was with the paranoia at the heart of it.

    I’ve seen this in way too many people. I see it in you too Harquebus. They will also insist that they’re being reasonable and are genuinely concerned with the truth… but it’s easy for anyone else to see that’s not so.

  51. Divergent Aussie

    Great article. Covers many facets of population and over population. It seems like the education focus for girls is meant for third world countries but is there enough time left for this strategy to work? Will climate change driven by overpopulation consumption simply swamp any proactive measures in the medium to long term? As the article suggests the government should remove incentives for producing children. But doesn’t this mean hitting childcare and maternity leave? This would impact women the most. I guess it is similar the the Chinese one child policy which removed support from parents with more than one child. Economic environmental prices such as the carbon tax have just been removed which would have effected the affordability of children over the long term. We seem to be going in the wrong direction now. I do have a proposal which is to share children in an extended family setting. This would provide single children with an opportunity to interact with “siblings” without the economic and environmental consequences of having several siblings. A bit like fostering I guess. Our current model is that everyone has exclusive control over their children for better or worse. Some parents want lots of kids simply because they like nurturing. Can there be another workable family model? Is this sort of like getting back to a community based model? Or even an inter-generational family model which may not be based genetic affiliation.

  52. jimhaz

    [Saying there is a “conspiracy of silence” about overpopulation and that no-one is working on solutions is patently bullshit.]

    There is in the political parties.

    @ Michael

    I am pretty sure the baby boomer issue is being way, way overstated by the neocons. I discount it. People living longer is another story, but also not as significant as is made out to be. Some rationalisation of health funding could solve much of that – cutting out the free over-expensive service for the very old and near dead, and in the meantime creating US Social Security type personal insurance fund for health benefits in retirement.

    Personally I think our major health funding issue is going to be the intensive care for fat slothful folks like me who will die by 70 due to a lack of adequate activity as caused by technology.

  53. jimhaz

    [It seems like the education focus for girls is meant for third world countries but is there enough time left for this strategy to work? ]

    The problem is that 3rd world countries are not so much the problem in terms resources used – the ideas seem to be more about preventing periodic starvation.

    Trouble is educating women in 3rd world countries would help to lift living standards and they would begin to use more and more resources.

    As 3rd world countries develop organisational structures allow for their populations expand and nothing will stop there populations from doing so and living longer, until they become wealthy enough to seek other interests outside of kids.

    I suspect it would put more pressure on the environment more quickly than otherwise. It might work only where the country does not actually develop due to education – but then they’ll be trying to emigrate elsewhere where per capita they will use 20 times the resources just as has happened with our developing world immigrants.

    Nonetheless, it is a hurdle we have to resolve regardless of them being more educated or not.

    Some of the policies are more for developing or developed countries, than 3rd world.

  54. Miriam English

    jimhaz, “would help to lift living standards and they would begin to use more and more resources.”

    This is a common misconception.

    When I was first interested in computers they used to take up whole floors of large office buildings and run on tens of kilowatts of electricity. Now my smartphone is thousands of times more powerful, billions of times easier to use, and uses a bare trickle of energy to run.

    It wasn’t very long ago that nobody had insulation in their homes. If you wanted your home to be warmer in the winter or cooler in summer you were either out of luck or burned a dirty great fire in a fireplace (wasting most of the heat up the chimney) or ran expensive electric heaters and ran fans in the summer. Now it is unheard of that a new house doesn’t have at least rudimentary insulation, and in many places they lay in excellent insulation, knowing it will more than pay for itself later.

    Electricity companies were recently very annoyed to find that their expected increase in money siphoned from their customers didn’t happen because people were buying energy efficient lightbulbs, refrigerators, washing machines, and more. Electricity demand actually fell, even with increased numbers of customers. Solar power added to that fall, and electricity companies are fond of blaming solar users, but electricity consumption was falling anyway.

    New, carbon-fibre-composite bodies for electric cars are so light and so much stronger than steel cars that they are far more economical than the heavy, wasteful behemoths currently clogging our roads. They don’t rust, have just a few moving parts, and can pilot themselves, reducing the waste of vehicle accidents.

    New super-efficient airplanes are being built to use a fraction of the fuel of existing ones. There are even very promising electric airplanes, including the Solar Impulse 2 — an entirely solar-powered airplane – which flew around the world earlier this year.

    As we advance we become more efficient.

    Lifting the people of the Third World into a more efficient future will not necessarily mean a heavier demand on resources.

    A close friend of mine who grew up in Zambia in central Africa returns there regularly to spend time with her family and friends. She always comes back with stories of how their technology is beginning to leapfrog ours. We have old, expensive, wasteful infrastructure we’re wedded to, that hasn’t been upgraded in ages, whereas they’re free to select new technologies… and they do. They are very, very poor (mostly because they have been and are being robbed of their resources by the First World nations), but thanks to China they have access to extremely energy-efficient things that make me quite envious.

    As the poor of the world are lifted out of poverty and bring billions more minds to bear on the problems of the world we will see breakthroughs come at a speed we previously thought impossible. We will continue to see greater and greater efficiencies.

    The question is: can we balance the growth of wealth with increased efficiency so that overall resource use goes down?

    I’m an optimist, so naturally I think we can. Am I able to prove it? No. Can anybody else prove the reverse? No. We will just have to try our best, while we wait and see.

  55. Harquebus


    I have stated many times that, there is only one viable solution that is the topic of this article. Population reduction. There are no other options. How we go about it is not my decision to make. I am open to suggestions. Again, as I have stated before, it will take a combination of strategies and Kaye Lee has suggested some. Education and contraception would have to be on the list.

    The problem for the moment is to convince the many that population reduction is the only solution and that bullshit like renewable energy is not going to save us and hoping for yet to be discovered technology to do the same is a dangerous gamble which, is likely to fail.

    I have no guilt in doing what I do. I am trying to save our world in the way that is best for me. For example, my last bulk mail out concerning bushfires which, you did not receive, resulted in two personal responses from politicians. One from a South Australian senator and another from the state minister for environment and sustainability. My efforts to communicate do reach those that can make a difference, although I will concede that they probably won’t. At least I try and I don’t give up. How many politicians and persons of authority read theAIMN?

    As for conspiracy theories, some I believe and some I don’t. The links that I post are mostly for others who might be interested or to support my opinions. I will from now on keep a tally and note of the theories that I actively promote and that you think are absurd if, you are willing to participate that is.

    You are obviously an intelligent person and I do enjoy our debates. I hope that you will not abandon me.

    Divergent Aussie
    Your proposal is one that I have not heard before and sounds like a good one.

    Caring for the aged is a problem that I can see no solution for. Considering my inability to convince others, I fully expect to end up sitting in my own shit in some neglected and understaffed facility.

    Something that I came across last week for others who might be interested. My apologies Kaye Lee.

    “As long as population growth in African countries outstrips their ability to educate, house and employ their citizens, large numbers of people will continue to brave the deserts and seas to escape.”


  56. michael lacey

    Well if we don’t find a solution mother nature will!

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