Guest Opinion by Tony Orman
Everyone is hot and bothered about global warming. It’s a polarising topic. Everyone talks about it even the Pope Francis who said a year or so ago, that climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
However the proverbial butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker, even scientists, cannot agree on global warming. And when “the tumult and the shouting dies and the Captains and the Kings depart” there remains one rarely debated factor – people.
Indeed, politicians and bureaucrats blame animals both farmed and even wild. In 2007 the Department of Conservation’s director-general bizarrely blamed wild deer for farting and belching. They need to be exterminated he ranted.
Animals are an easy target. They cannot argue back in defence, but people can. The reason? Deer and cows do not vote but people do. Yet it is people that are the cause of the problem – or more particularly numbers of people.
People fart and belch just like cows and deer. Furthermore people drive cars which belch emissions and jet planes fart “gases and particles — which contribute to climate change.” Humans demand resources, flush toilets, use chemicals and throw away garbage. Deer, sheep and cattle don’t.
The more people the greater demand for resources, more cars and planes, more sewers, more rubbish and more emissions.
Climate change through ice ages and warm periods has always been. But true extent of a climate change crisis is not in the natural dynamics but in that induced by people.
Controversial author Paul Erlich warned about the people problem in his 1968 book “The Population Bomb” And in New Zealand about the same time – almost 50 years ago – a few enlightened environmentalists such as “Save Manapouri” conservationist and New Zealand Deerstalkers Association president John B Henderson publicly warned about the folly of “further proliferating the hordes of humanity.”
True the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) briefly acknowledged that “Globally, economic and population growth continued to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.” But it was a rare comment and went unnoticed.
But in New Zealand, politicians’ emissions of hot air reach hyperbolic heights. Decades of politicians have blithely boasted of GDP and population growth rates seeming oblivious and unconcerned New Zealand’s population is now just under five million.
Five million is significant for John B Henderson 50 years ago said “it is high time New Zealanders set themselves an upper limit — I have no hesitation in tabling my own estimate – it is 5 million people.”
But New Zealand still has no population policy. Government pursues growth with a maniacal passion and no control. Serious regional imbalances exist, most graphically illustrated by Auckland busting at the seams, demanding more taxpayers’ money for roading and motorways, upgrading of sewers and stormwaters etc., and sprawling outwards over fertile soils. Tauranga, once an attractive modest city, is in danger of becoming a clone of the Auckland conurbation as its urban sprawl in cancerous fashion engulfs productive farmland.
Immigration proceeds apace swelling numbers and diluting and eroding the Kiwi culture evolved from two ethnic groups that developed into a bi-cultural society.
Surprisingly the Green Party who you might expect to champion addressing the population bomb have been relatively quiet. Only NZ First initially drew attention to immigration. Belatedly The Green and Labour parties eventually supported it. Election 2017 is now history and there is no realisation from the Greens/NZ First/Labour coalition that New Zealand desperately needs a population policy.
Google “population clock nz”. I did on Saturday 27July at midday. The population was 4,97 million – perilously close to John B Henderson’s 5 million limit. New Zealand’s population is estimated to increase by one person every 8 minutes.
But the sharp reality is more people and more consumers equal more resource demand, force more costly infrastructure demand and make more emissions. More, more and more emissions.
The planet cannot tolerate infinite growth in numbers of people. That is the crux of environmental crosses whether it’s global warming or other environmental issues. Human population is the crisis. Yet our politicians ignore it.
Footnote: Tony Orman (MNZIS) is a Marlborough-based author, conservationist, journalist and former town and country planner
© Wild deer got blamed by DOC for causing global warming!