Population Growth and Climate Change

Firstly a big thumbs up to Brook Sabin and stuff.co.nz for having the balls to write and publish an opinion piece putting two of the most obvious things together. Two things that most New Zealanders can see as clear as daylight – evidenced from the the vast number of supporting comments on the opinion piece – but two things that most politicians continue to shy away from.

Climate change is but one symptom (of many) of too many people consuming too much stuff and the most effective way of reducing our footprint on this planet is to reduce our consumption and do what can to slow and eventually reverse human population growth.

Now I would encourage Brook or stuff.co.nz or any other media presence to take a step further and see how this may apply to Aotearoa/New Zealand. The fertility rate in New Zealand is now below replacement level so, in the absence of migration, our population would eventually begin to gradually decline. However, due to successive Government’s lack of vision and sheer laziness regarding other ways to grow our economic well-being, our population has been growing rapidly mainly due to immigration.

Now many argue that moving people from one place to another makes no net difference as far as the environment is concerned. However, the vast majority of migrants to New Zealand come from countries with a much lower ecological footprint per capita than New Zealand.  Therefore, while not having as much impact as adding a new high-consuming person to the planet, increasing the ecological footprint of individuals certainly has an impact.

Discussing immigration as part of the environmental impact of population growth makes myself and many others feel uneasy, but it is a subject from which we must not shy away.

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