Earlier this week it was reported that, as a result of a large rise in the birth rate over the past few years, the UK is desperately short of primary school places. For me, the most surprising and worrying aspect of this is that there was no discussion of what had caused this rise, and no suggestion that it might not be such a good thing.
Global human population has been steadily rising, and probably passed the level at which it is sustainable some years ago. The UK is one of the most heavily populated countries in the world. And yet it seems that no-one; particularly not politicians and the media, is prepared to even talk about the problem, let alone do anything about it. Wars, famine, disease, drought, the exhaustion of finite natural resources such as coal, gas and oil; pollution, imbalances in ecologies, climate change – all of the major problems facing humans across the globe are under-pinned by the background problem of over-population.
In the UK we long ago passed the point at which the land available for farming could produce sufficient food for our population, and we are reliant on imported food, which in turn deprives people in other regions. There’s not enough housing, too few jobs, and our transport systems are over-loaded. We talk about the need to preserve natural environments, such as rainforests, in other parts of the world, and yet we long ago destroyed our own forests, and the few fragments of ancient woodland that remain are under constant threat from developers, and from governments who put economic growth above the environment.
If we are struggling to support our current population, how will we cope in years to come when, according to predictions by climate change scientists, cities and farmland will have been swallowed up by the sea? Where will the displaced people go, and where will we grow food?
If a developed and supposedly sophisticated country such as the UK is unable to understand the need to control population at a level that can be realistically sustained with the resources available, without damaging our environment, what hope is there for the world?