Australia's population explosion

I was born in 1969 when the population of Australia was just 12 million. By the end of this year, our population will top 22 million.

To folks in other countries, that mightn’t seem like much; but it’s a number that wasn’t predicted to occur until the middle of the century. Based on the current growth rate, it could more than double again by 2050, exceeding 44 million.

An Australia with 44 million people? I’m glad I likely won’t be around to see that as the place already feels crowded :)

We have a large country, but much of it is arid and while beautiful in its own way, isn’t really suited for a western lifestyle. Actually, I don’t know any countries that really are.

So does this milestone and rather unsettling revised prediction mean Aussies breed like rabbits (another unwelcome import here)? Not really, much of our growth is through immigration.

I have no problems with migrants as such – it would be rather hypocritical if I did as I come from migrant and refugee stock; as do most of us.

Prior to European settlement, the country was in good hands with a comparatively small population of indigenous peoples. While that was never going to remain the case; we really need to consider how many people this country, meaning the Australian environment, can support – and the peoples of other countries need to consider their own population situation too.

The very frightening thing about our population growth is it’s all about profit and “prosperity”. We are actively encouraging it and we are growing our population based on the myth of infinite growth being possible. To consider anything else is just too frightening for some and to accept that we’ve probably hit the ceiling already is just unthinkable to others.

We’re told we need more people in order to support those who retire and those who are unable to support themselves. This is at best incorrect and at worst a blatant lie. This growth is about making more money for the mega-corps and in turn, their shareholders. This is about maintaining our “standard of living” which really means our wretched excesses that we’ve convinced ourselves are fine.

The problem is, nature will fight back – we cannot continue to pull resources out of our environment the way we are, use them in the way we do and then dumping the toxic waste without it coming back to bite us. We’re starting to see that happen now through climate change.

Our “standard of living” *will* change – whether we do it the easy way by making necessary changes  fast enough or the hard way when nature has finally had enough of us remains to be seen.

While changing light bulbs to CFLs and implementing gas saving strategies are noble and and necessary actions, one of the best ways we can take the pressure off the environment and something many of can do is quite simple; in Australia’s case, to stem the immigration tide and in many countries, for people to stop having so many kids – aiming for *at least* a zero population growth.

People often talk about their right to have children. Nature doesn’t recognize or care about those rights and deals with overpopulation in ways we find quite cruel.

It’s not a topic for endless debate – it just has to be done.

Read more about population control – the ultimate greening