ENVIRONMENT

The president of the Population Institute of Canada wrote a letter to the nation's major news paper about the thundering silence about population at the Cop26 conference:
 

Sent: November 7, 2021 9:52 PM
To: letters@globeandmail.com
Subject: Silence on population at COP26 and by World Food Programme

 

Dear Letters Editor, 

As the COP26 meetings on climate change progress in Glasgow, the UN’s World Food Programme informs us that a climate-driven famine threatens 1.1 million people in Madagascar. The report mentions several climate-related contributors to the looming famine, such as warmer temperatures, deficits in rainfall, and severe droughts, but says nothing about population growth. Nor does it mention population stabilization as a possible resilience-building action, along with such efforts as reforestation and sand dune stabilization.  

Yet a reasonable person might ask whether Madagascar’s population growth of 21  million over the last fifty years, from 6.6 million in 1970 to 27.6 million in 2020, could be a factor in its current food crisis. Most Malagasies depend on subsistence agriculture, much of it slash-and-burn. Madagascar has lost about 80% of its original forest where 90% of its endemic species live. Trees are also highly efficient sequesters of carbon dioxide and, unlike carbon capture technologies, require no energy input from humans. About 80% of tropical deforestation is caused by the conversion of forests to agriculture and other uses by expanding populations. However, population growth is also being ignored at the climate summit in Glasgow. 

Madagascar’s population is projected to grow to almost 54 million in 2050 and over 98 million in 2100. By ignoring population growth,  the World Food Programme, the COP meetings, and governments in general are telling what the late Al Bartlett called a “silent lie.” The last word might go to Malthus, who long ago warned about “the power of population” overwhelming “the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.”  

Madeline Weld

President, Population Institute Canada

Here is a video that strikingly shows population increase over time.