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ACF and ABC need to promote open public policy debate on population growth

I recently attended an ACF meeting. As the oldest environmental NGO in Australia they are doing a road tour seeking support. These people are fighting against the inevitable destruction of the Australian environment, which the ABC, our public broadcaster, on whom so many Australians rely for serious information, fully sanctions using pro population growth extremism. Unfortunately the argument put forth is akin to one where a driver, because he is wearing a seat-belt, believes that he now no longer needs to worry about travelling at high speed without brakes.

The ACF are unable to mention population growth in any of their 11 core campaigns, apparently because they are confused about what to do and how to do it. The ABC, on which Australians rely for much of their information, has partly driven this confusion through destructive propaganda which seeks to suppress discussion of the scientific truth about population growth.

Typically such Environmental NGO meetings are a combination of over 50s and younger people. A significant proportion of the older people recognise the population problem because they have the wisdom of the experience of rapid change iThe 20 somethings just can’t see how rapidly the degeneration is occurring because they lack that experience and remain uninformed by important broadcasters like the ABC.

I rang the ABC's RN Breakfast line yesterday again making a plea for impartial coverage of the population growth issue. A cause I have supported for the last 8 years and more.

I explained that refugees, migration and population growth management are related, but completely different, issues. What appeared to be a bigoted ABC fool on the other end of the line said she didn’t agree. To me this betrayed the reality of intolerance, prejudice and ignorance endemic at the ABC. Ever since the Pauline Hanson debacle the ABC has sought to confuse population growth management, which is a humanitarian and environmental issue, with anti refugee and anti migration attitudes.

Refugees are created by overpopulation, degraded environments and conflict over resources.

Migration, in Australia, is a government policy based on an outdated belief in population growth and a ‘populate or perish’ mentality that is a relic of a mid-20th century world with no limits to growth. Apart from the US and Canada, there are no other countries with longstanding mass migration policies. Such policies are in conflict with refugee policy. For example Australia's planned migration intake for 2014/15 is 190,000 while refugee intake is 13,750. And this is happening in the context of annual unemployment growth roughly 60% higher than annual population growth. The US has 50 million people below the poverty line and is arguably one of the most environmentally destructive, inhumane examples of capitalist malpractice on earth. Canada is similar to Australia because there is a delusion of no limits to growth there too; despite the evidence to the contrary.

Population growth management is essential for achieving for humanitarian and environmentally sustainable objectives. This is not a political issue; it is a scientific fact; just as global warming is a scientific fact.

Australia’s economy, in deteriorating more rapidly under the extreme population growth scenario, provides the proof of the unhumanitarian and unsustainable nature of extreme population growth. I have written at length about this scientific fact, explaining that Australia displays contempt for the risk management of this issue that any Australian business entity would be legally bound to apply based on WorkSafe legislation. All multinational corporations, including large mining and oil companies, follow guidelines similar to WorkSafe. The basis for these risk management strategies is based on maximising safe outcomes in an environment (the business environment) where there is a physical (and financial) limit to the available resources. This risk management strategy, if practiced by the Australian government, would lead to the following:

  • Immediate evaluation of the impact of population growth on the economy to determine whether lower rates of growth would lead to better holistic financial outcomes
  • If the evidence supports this conclusion this would lead to more money available for domestic and foreign aid to promote quality of life and family planning in the developing world (and in Australia)
  • The simple risk management conclusion may be that moderating Australia’s rate of population growth will serve the greater good. This is why confusing such a strategy with anti-migration or anti-refugee attitudes is so destructive.

One analogy is a driver in a car wearing a seat belt. The seat belt represents renewable energy. The car represents population growth. The car is currently driving towards a brick wall at 100 km per hour. Unless the car slows down the seat belt will be of no use.

Or another driver in the car. The seatbelt represents government capacity to balance the budget. Same car, same population problem, same brick wall. Population growth denial doesn't work.

There have been many economic studies supporting the conclusion that rapid population growth is economically unsustainable due to the high cost of infrastructure expansion. Here is one example:

The argument about reducing carbon footprints of the developed world is one thing. But if you are wearing a size 11 shoe in Melbourne you will need a size 0.08 shoe 200 years from now based on the current rate of population growth. That is because the current trend population growth in Melbourne will change today’s population of 4.25 million into 593 million in 2215.

We don’t have enough time left to continue with confused and bigoted ABC propaganda driving population growth denial.

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Backward Australia is still in the retro state of Colonialism, of accommodating new settlers and the "nation building" mentality, but on a mature nation.

Due to the uniqueness of Australia's history, of settlement since the First Fleet, post war immigration DID bring prosperity and build our nation. We selected people from the UK and Europe, people with similar ideas and standards of living. Now we are bringing in people of the third world, and "diversity" of crimes and cultural collision.

It's imagined that this "growth" can be endless, and in a pool of politicians and economists devoid of scope, ideals, intellectual rigour, and basic history/environmental education, they think that the "growth" we enjoyed under the policy of "populate or perish" can persist forever! It's dangerous intellectual denial, and lazy economics to rely on a growing pool of people. It's stealing from future generations, in a finite world.

Any questioning of our immigration rate is quarantined under "racism", where as the real problem is much more profound, and complex. It's more about resource depletion, living standards, and economic downfall.

While the tail wind of new arrivals buying goods and services, and contributing to taxes, brings in economic benefits, the head wind is the cost of infrastructure - which is not evident immediately. Australia already has an excess of $700 billion infrastructure deficit, and it's calculated that each new person requires at least $200,000 worth of infrastructure.

So, they keep adding new people, by default, for more taxes - and so we have an addiction to growth and a cyclic argument that we must continue with our assumed and projected population growth!

In recent days, in the media aftermath, reminiscences and discussion following Malcolm Fraser's death, I noticed a couple of times that the ABC managed again, seemingly casually to merge the issues of immigration, multi-culturalism and refugees into one big "feelgood" pudding so as to ward off any questioning of its components .

I think it is important not to constrain arguments to those the growth lobby use.

For example, the growth lobby says that population is an economic concern, and opponents then accept this as assumed fact, and try to argue that population growth is economically not favourable.

Do you shuffle your family members and add new ones, based on it being economically profitable to do so? Once you accept the idea that economic factors override familial considerations, you are then forced to adopt this "logic". Some in the anti growth lobby I think makes this mistake, by taking it as assumed truth, that economic considerations, or profit should set population policy. The fact that population growth may be profitable doesn't make it right.

This is IMO very dangerous, and why eventually it will be the more right wing elements that will have the final say, as they are the only ones who outright reject this proposition.

Besides, demographics is a branch of economics. As the population changes, so too will the economy. The economy is largely determined by the people. A good economy is not based on numbers and figures but by soil, water, resources, social stability, air, energy. An economy is a system by which inputs are converted into desired outputs, and the QUALITY of inputs and outputs is critical. Economic stability and prosperity is reliant upon good conditions to allow food to grow, services and goods to be innovated and created, good social conditions to allow and encourage this and the ability to maintain natural wealth to support a good quality life, the very basis and the POINT of all economic activity..

Sacrificing these to chase numbers is insane and counter-producTive. The numbers go up, but ability declines. This is the legacy of "economic" population growth.