Is Population Really a Concern?


As a Human Geographer, I was shocked to read David Attenboroughs piece about Population growth last year, especially the use of the term "barmy" with regards to aid being given to famine stricken countries. This piece aims to explore the reasons why population isn't a concern and also how we as members of the global community can help alleviate any issues which manifest themselves in LDC's (Less developed countries).

It is a widely regarded view that population growth is reaching its peak, with many experts believing peak population will be reached in 100 years (United Nations). With so many experts putting peak population in this time-frame, it is evident that the crisis which Attenborough is alluding to, is not going to happen. There are in fact a number of reasons for this, firstly, countries are becoming increasingly connected, China's investment in Africa is paying for a large level of infrastructure and health amenities, coupled with an increase in manufacturing industries and contraception knowledge improving, there is an increasing belief of a lack of demand for large families, this trend is already emerging and simple demographic logic points to a population flat-line emerging, which will in turn lead to resources being able to cope with the needs of humans.

Also in Africa and China, the main hotspots for extreme population growth, there is enough land to sustain the growth in population and much of that can be cultivated. There are admittedly obstacles preventing cultivation but nothing that can't be corrected without the appropriate UN funding. This is an area in which I believe we need to improve as the correct techniques are not in place, however this is a viable solution and again another reason why Attenboroughs comments were not well thought through.

I understand somewhat about where Attenborough is coming from about the developed worlds role in controlling population, however I disagree about the examples he is using, if he were to say that poor investment from HIC's (High income countries) with regards to infrastructure, or poor foreign direct investment to use Africa's natural resources (BP and the Niger delta) I would agree. However what he is saying is that HIC's are wrong to be trying to educate poorer countries or even in some instances try to improve the living standards of the residents of poor countries. This apparent ignorance of the merits of global co-operation and top-down investment feels like an out of date scholar trying to maintain the belief of "charity begins in home". The uproar this piece has caused however has shown that the main feeling is that we need to help poorer countries develop as it's our responsibility as global citizens.

In conclusion I believe that population is not a main focus of concern for the world right now, I believe issues such as climate change and resource depletion need exploring as a priority. I also believe that Attenboroughs piece is symbolic of changing attitudes towards global politics, and how there is now a belief that we all have a part to play in eradicating world poverty. Maybe it is time for Sir David to re-assess his views on what is a very divisive and complicated subject.