From Tony Dale, Oxford, UK, in reply to a letter in New Scientist dated May 25
Contrary to what Graham Lawton seems to suggest, population isn’t a fringe or a taboo issue, at least not in schools in England. Geography deals with it in depth. It is discussed as “population change” rather than “population growth”. Students examine various models for predicting future population change and factors which may influence it.
Students are left in no doubt that high fertility rates in some regions, and rises in others with already substantial populations, will account for a growth in world population to around 10 billion by the mid-century. They are also made aware that improvements in reproductive health and women’s education may well slow down and even reverse that growth by the end of the century. When population does appear on the global policy agenda, there will be many geography students who will ask: what took you so long?
(My take). Ten billion! And already changing climatic conditions are destabilising the Sahel region of Africa and are responsible for an increase in migration north. This migration can only grow in intensity and is a huge threat to Europe. We blame corruption and drug gangs for the similar migration north in the Americas, and there is little discussion about the effects of climate change in Central America – but it must be having a disrupting effect, an effect the corrupt leaderships of the countries involved are wholly unable to address.
People seem to think that the climate crisis is just a matter of a few more hurricanes and super-hot summers. The political and economic implications of a heating planet are huge – and instead of proposing a family planning blitz and cutting harmful emissions we shrug our shoulders and invoke personal freedom. Meanwhile we elect clowns because they tell us the crisis is bogus – and it suits us globally to believe them.
We need more Epicurean pragmatists, not effete politicians looking over their shoulders at their religious constituency. Established religion has no useful role in this crisis , except as an emotional palliative.