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Populate and Perish - The 2015 Intergenerational Report

The headline head count in the 2015 Intergenerational Report (IGR) is 39.7 million people by 2055 versus 24 million people today. These numbers seem to overstate current population and understate predicted future population in an attempt to conceal the extent of the expected growth. Other sources estimate a current population of just over 23 million and 39.7 looks like a salesman's price for a $40 item.

The figures represent compound population growth of 1.27% per annum over the next 40 years. This is a doubling time of 56 years. Actual doubling time in Queensland, Western Australia and Melbourne over the last decade or more has been 28 years. That has been caused by annual population growth of roughly 2.5% per annum. Since Federation doubling time has averaged around 40 years at 1.6% per annum. In recent years Australia's overall annual population growth has been 1.8%.

These rates of population growth are insane. What will happen first in the next 28 years; a halving of per capita fossil fuel emissions or a doubling of population? Current rates of population growth must be slowed to buy the time required to develop long term survival strategies. Time is running out for both population growth and climate change. These two issues are the SAME issue.

Recent UN global population predictions have varied from 6 to 16 billion between now and 2100. This is clearly chaotic expansion problem that demands strategic management. To refuse to discuss population growth management because it is "too hard" is like a fisherman defending his right to take every last fish out of the ocean; thereby ensuring his bankruptcy. The analogies or metaphors for this blatant stupidity are endless; and the Emperor with no clothes is another.

For a developed country like Australia to continue to lead the world using artificially induced extreme population growth to drive its economy is absurd. Shouldn't developed economies be focussed on a transition to sustainable population? Isn't it essential to develop a sustainable social and economic model for developing countries to follow? Isn't the reason China and India burn fossil fuels that they followed the technological lead of so-called developed countries? Aren't those so-called developed countries now under an obligation to lead with the social technology of stable population with similar urgency to that of transition to renewable energy?

Imagine that you have to halve your fossil fuel emissions as fast as population is doubling, just to maintain emissions at current levels. With a population doubling time of 28 years, per capita emissions have to halve every 28 years to see no emissions reductions at all. Will we all be producing 25% of our current emissions within 56 years? Or 12.5% within 84 years? What use will that be if there are 8 times as many people competing to wreck what remains of the environment?

What causes human conflict and wars? It's not climate change. The root cause is people competing for access to scarce resources. Population growth escalates that competition at a time of escalating scarcity of available resources. Population growth is clearly the primary root cause of humanitarian, social environmental and economic problems.

The 2015 Intergenerational Report should be a wake up call for humanitarian and sustainable development in Australia. Instead it is an absurd document telling us all that the Emperor is wearing clothes. But as usual media commentators seem incapable of doing the sums and highlighting the insanity. Australia has a rate of population roughly 4 times the OECD country average and doubles coal exports every 20 years while debt escalates and roads are choked with traffic.