Population growth a close partner of economic growth
Population growth is a significant factor in economic growth. The world‟s population which was 1.5 billion in 1900 had grown to 6.8 billion by 2010. It has doubled in the last 40 years and is growing exponentially. lt is expected to rise to over 9 billion by 2050. This population increase with the associated increase in consumption is cancelling out most of the current efforts to control people‟s environmental impacts. For instance, in the case of efforts to control carbon emissions through reduced fossil fuel use, over the period during which the population doubled the use of fossil fuels for energy tripled and on present trends this is likely to continue. Population growth also limits the opportunity to increase well being in both developed and developing nations but the supposed benefit of increased demand/consumption is seen by industry and governments as being more important.
Immigration is a major factor in population growth. At the end of the first decade of the twenty first century large numbers of people are annually moving from overpopulated areas such as Africa to Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia increasing the environmental pressure on their new home countries without, as a result of the continuing high birth rates in the places they are emigrating from, relieving the environmental pressure in their former homelands. The recipient nations are willing participants in this because of their overriding belief of their governments that high levels of migration are good because they increase the demand for housing and infrastructure, and goods of all kinds, augment the labour force, keep the mineral export industry going and by boosting economic growth, provide the wealth to develop any alternative energy sources and pay for environmental protection. As with the policy of economic growth there is little or no parliamentary debate about immigration and population policy. Governments take the benefits of population growth as a given. In this way, while there are no new lands to settle, the world is continuing to fill up with people.
[Ch 7 of Steady State: Alternative to Endless Economic Growth by Dr Geoff Mosley (Envirobook, 2010) available post-free at $22. See: www.envirobook.com.au]