June 15, 2012
Population Explosion Strains World Resources
DM Crumbliss for redOrbit.com
The UK´s Royal Society has announced that population and consumption must be addressed at the Rio+20 environmental summit. They say past failures on these issues threaten the natural world and prospects for future generations.
"The overall message is that we need a renewed focus on both population and consumption - it's not enough to look at one or the other," Prof Charles Godray from the Martin School at the University of Oxford, who chaired the process of writing the declaration, told BBC News.
"We need to look at both, because together they determine the footprint on the world."
Global population is at 7 billion and is likely to grow to as much as 11 billion by 2050.
If the billion poorest people are to have adequate access to food, water and energy, the academies say, developed countries will have to reduce their own consumption of natural resources.
They say this can be done without reducing prosperity so long as different economic models are followed. Failing to make these changes will be disastrous for the entire world, not just those in the poorer countries.
For now commitment is weak from developed countries. The US and European governments agree only to "commit to systematically consider population trends and projections in our national, rural and urban development strategies and policies".
In other words, they will look at it but don´t promise to do anything.
There is a strong point to be made that whatever developed nations do will likely prove useless in the face of continuing uncontrolled population growth in the Third World.
Eliya Zulu, executive director of the African Institute for Development Policy in Nairobi who worked on the recent Royal Society report, said perceptions were changing.
"Many African countries are feeling the effects of population growth, and are finding they'll need to deal with it in order to continue developing as well as to address their environmental issues," he told BBC News.