A plague of people? The population question explored

By Guest Author 11/06/2013


by Dr John Robinson

During the decades of the 1960s and 1970s there was increasing evidence that humanity was harming the earth and moving into an uncertain future.  

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.01.04 AMIt was realised that many major problems – financial and economic collapse, climate change, oil price rises and resource shortages, terrorism and war, food and water scarcity, and overpopulation – are global and the accumulated consequences of actions over many years.  They interact and cannot be dealt with in isolation.

I was part of a New Zealand effort to examine this issue, in the DSIR, as secretary of the New Zealand Club of Rome, as New Zealand representative in the OECD Interfutures project and then with the Commission for the Future and many international organizations.  Research into long-term global trends required studies of many global models and research projects as well as associated research into social issues and similar stressed historical events – a dedicated effort and a long learning curve.

The result was a comprehensive forecast that is proving robust, as many events have followed the expected pattern.  Yet now that the earlier concerns are becoming reality, this interdisciplinary science is denied; the DSIR has been destroyed and all that remains is a rump science captive to the growth imperative.

An account of events and the forecast is available in my new book, which is called “A plague of people” because population is the major driving force (1 billion in 1800, 7 billion now, 9 billion forecast by 2050).  We live in a remarkable period as Earth becomes fully colonised.  The number of people, and their stressful activities, are driving past a tipping point in 2030, the overshoot and decline described in “The limits to growth” in 1972.  This is the “perfect storm” indicated for 2030 by UK science adviser Sir John Beddington.

New Zealand will then become an overcrowded lifeboat nation.

We should all be concerned.  This is a critical time in the history of mankind yet people continue with business as usual, with businesses and governments calling for ever more growth.  The world is over full and collapsing, and a dreadful future is in store for us and for our children.  We must all dare to face what is happening – to look catastrophe in the face and manage as best we can, with care for one another and the natural world.  Muddling along over the edge is foolhardy.  It is worth thinking about, and considering the wealth of information presented here.

Information is on a website www.ibwspp.blosgspot.com.  Copies of “A plague of people” ($40) are available from Tross Publishing, P.O. Box 22 143, Khandallah, Wellington 6441, email contact trosspublishing@hotmail.co.nz, website www.trosspublishing.co.nz or the author, email contact johnrob@paradise.net.nz.