Yesterday I posted a link to this article without comment in part because I was pressed for time. But also, I posted it without comment, and without putting a political spin on it, because I was interested to see who among us would be sufficiently provoked by it to make comment.
It appears that the only responses to the topic so far have taken a more conservative, rather than liberal, position. Those of us who, based upon comments in other threads on this Off Topic forum, tend to be more left leaning have not seen fit to respond. It seems to me that any time someone talks openly about reducing a population of people by 30 million, everyone’s ears—regardless of their personal politics--should perk up. The article itself makes no mention of how this 30 million person reduction would be achieved. Notice that, while it discusses immigration issues, the 30 million figure could not be reached, in the near or intermediate term, simply by limiting immigration. The only way, it seems to me, this figure could be achieved is through forced emigration or genocide. One liberal response to this concern will be that I’m being unnecessarily suspicious or “paranoid”. Or, that I think that there is a “conspiracy” of some kind—but I, like none of the other respondents in this thread so far, have made no mention of any conspiracy whatsoever. Maybe I’m missing another method to cut a population by 50% other than forced emigration or genocide, but what would it be?
No doubt another liberal position would be that I’m simply too dumb to understand what the term “sustainability” means, but this tactic would be nothing but a diversion. I made this diversion voluntarily in trying to understand what the term means, and it turns out that it means substantially different things to different people. Merriam Webster defines it as follows:1: capable of being sustained. 2 a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged b: of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods
The first definition is what I would term the common definition, and the one most likely to be thought of by those of us not immersed in the environmental movement. The second and third definitions are more consistent with the definition from an environmental standpoint, and illustrate the way that the term, even among environmentalists, is more or less strict depending upon who is using it and the context in which they are doing so. In its stricter environmental definition, as represented by number 2a, it is the idea of using only those resources that are renewable/not depleted by use. In terms of energy sources, this would include solar, wind, and possibly combustion of biomass, but would certainly rule out all fossil fuels, including coal. In practice, the broader meaning of “sustainability” as in 2b is quite a moving target, and even environmentalists are unable to agree on a definition of the term “sustainability” in this sense. The ease with which environmentalists cast off the term “global warming” in favor of “global climate change”, while gaining no insight into the error of its assumptions and conclusions and policy implications, is similar to the way “sustainability” changes its meaning depending upon who uses the term. Despite the fact that they may be talking about different things, all such environmentally-enlightened pesons agree that “sustainability” is a good thing. For more discussion of this uncertainty, see: http://oregonfuture.oregonstate.edu/part1/pf1_02.html
As stated above, however, all such discussion of the term “sustainability” is merely a diversion, because it does not address the issue of how the population of the United Kingdom would be cut in half. I would love for Mr. Porritt, and others who advocate population reduction, to state explicitly how he intends for this goal to be achieved. One would think that he would be clearer on precisely what method he would advocate, in order to prevent “paranoids” like me from wondering whether those methods include forced emigration or genocide (which, by the way Merriam-Webster defines as: “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group”).
One irony here is that population growth in the UK is being achieved through immigration, rather than a high reproductive replacement rate among native British. His wished-for reduction in UK population is taking place only among natives such as himself, and a significant percentage of the people who are replacing the natives, and increasing total population numbers, have their own fanatical concerns which have nothing to do with environmental sustainability.