British Enviro Adviser Calls for Halving UK’s Population; US Media Virtually Asleep

Jonathon-Porritt1108There is plenty of evidence that many environmental activists are, at bottom, dangerous extremists who have deluded themselves into believing that the earth's population must be radically reduced if humanity is to survive. There is also growing evidence that this far-out viewpoint is more widely accepted among so-called mainstream environmentalists than the establishment media would have us believe.

Occasionally, these views surface. Ted Turner, father of five, infamously asserted the need to reduce the earth's population to 2 billion about a decade ago. He also expressed a stronger personal preference: "Personally, I think the population should be closer to when we had indigenous populations, back before the advent of farming. Fifteen thousand years ago, there was somewhere between 40 and 100 million people." In the early 1990s, the late Jacques Cousteau suggested that "World population must be stabilized and to do that we must eliminate 350,000 people per day." More recently, though less famously, at a Psychology Today blog, writer Stephen Kotter asserted "we need to lose 4.4 billion people and we need to lose them fast."

But I don't recall seeing an adviser to a government as prominent as the UK's Jonathon Porritt publicly utter such sentiments. But utter them he has. The UK Times Online took note on March 22:

UK population must fall to 30m, says Porritt

JONATHON PORRITT, one of Gordon Brown’s leading green advisers, is to warn that Britain must drastically reduce its population if it is to build a sustainable society.

Porritt’s call will come at this week’s annual conference of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), of which he is patron.

The trust will release research suggesting UK population must be cut to 30m if the country wants to feed itself sustainably.

..... Porritt is winning scientific backing. Professor Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum, will use the OPT conference, to be held at the Royal Statistical Society, to warn that population growth could help derail attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Rapley, who formerly ran the British Antarctic Survey, said humanity was emitting the equivalent of 50 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

“We have to cut this by 80%, and population growth is going to make that much harder,” he said.

..... Britain’s population is expected to grow from 61m now to 71m by 2031. Some politicians support a reduction.

The OPT's core belief is on its home page:

The Optimum Population Trust believes that Earth may not be able to support more than half its present numbers before the end of this century, and that the UK's long-term sustainable population level may be lower than 30 million. Research and policy are summarised on this website and available to all members in the OPT Journal.

The UK has created an independent Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), and Porritt is its chairman (the picture aobve is from that page). Yesterday, the SDC released "Prosperity without Growth? - The transition to a sustainable economy" (136-page PDF that can be downloaded at this web page). Porritt calls it the SDC's "magnum opus."

The report opens by telling us that the very idea of economic growth must be rejected:

Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. For the last five decades the pursuit of growth has been the single most important policy goal across the world. The global economy is almost five times the size it was half a century ago. If it continues to grow at the same rate the economy will be 80 times that size by the year 2100.

This extraordinary ramping up of global economic activity has no historical precedent. It’s totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology on which we depend for survival.

..... The myth of growth ..... has failed the two billion people who still live on less than $2 a day. It has failed the fragile ecological systems on which we depend for survival. It has failed, spectacularly, in its own terms, to provide economic stability and secure people’s livelihoods.

That the awfulness of economic growth they so decry has lifted hundreds of millions out of dire poverty in the past 30 years, and that the technological improvements resulting from growth is what enabled them to disseminate their tripe to the rest of the world so quickly, doesn't seem to register with these people.

But there you have it. At bottom, the "sustainability" wing of the environmental movement is about ending economic growth. Despite protestations to the contrary, declaring an end to economic growth would result in some combination of these three consequences:

  • Those in poverty would stay there, or die off.
  • Governments and/or international bodies would force the well-off to part with some or all of their resources as "the only way" to deal with that poverty (the die-off would occur after all that can be plundered has been plundered).
  • Governments and/or international bodies would impose coercive population controls, up to and including mandatory population reduction.

Despite Porritt's worldwide reputation, US media coverage has been scant. A Google News search on Porritt's full name in quotes comes back with only 11 items pegged to the Times Online story. Eight of those are from the US. Fox News excerpts that story. The only other listings inside the US include Rush Limbaugh (story #2 at link); Motley Fool; LifeSite News; Don Surber, who suggests that Porritt "can go first"; Moderate Voice; and two from an odd "news" source, Sustainability Ninja.

Searches on Porritt's full name (not in quotes) at the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times return nothing currently relevant, nothing, and nothing, respectively.

Media coverage of the beliefs of "respectable" enviros like Porritt (he was director of Friends of the Earth from 1984-1990), and of radical yet clearly influential organizations like OPT, would undermine cap and trade and other environmentalist tax, regulatory, and personally oppressive policy agenda items dressed up as "eco-friendly." I would suggest that this is why you don't see very much of it.

Cross-posted at

Economy Environment Media Bias Debate Global Warming Bias by Omission Major Newspapers New York Times Los Angeles Times Washington Post Foreign/Non-English Media Online Media Google Jonathon Porritt

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