Ten Billion

Two books called Ten Billion, referring to world population, one assuming we exceed it come 2020 with increasingly catastrophic consequences, the other confident the increase will tail away before we reach ten billion.

I took a look at both books.

Stephen Emmott: ‘unscientific and misanthropic’ according to the Guardian. ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jul/09/stephen-emmott-population-book-misanthropic

Danny Dorling: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/a7e5ba20-e7e4-11e2-9aad-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2ZuTyiwcG

I’ve heard Dorling talk (via an RSA video): eminently sane. Emmott I haven’t heard, but suggestions are he’s seriously OTT.

I’m for Dorling. ‘It is possible to paint a picture that has a rosier, less optimistically combative and less pessimistically catastrophic ending than many presume.’ He’s an avowed optimist but we’ll still need a huge amount of vigilance to avoid catastrophe. And that’s the line I take.

I’m as agonised about climate change and melting Arctic ice, eroding coastlines and higher sea levels as anyone, and yet the only approach is not ‘we’re fucked’ or ‘buy [your child] a gun’ (Emmott) but get engaged, work for a saner world, take initiatives. Happily it seem more the older generation who take the ‘we’re fucked’ line, or the alternative at the other extreme, ‘what problem, I don’t see one’ (paraphrasing Nigel Lawson).

Optimism and ‘can-do’ have always been more the domain of the younger generation and this old fogey (almost old, almost fogey) is more than happy to take their side in this case.

Quick plug: there’s no better way of getting informed than the Population Matters website. See http://populationmatters.org  They are kinder there to Emmott than I would be, but it’s full of good things.

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