Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

Don’t panic about population (energy is the problem)

with 32 comments

First broadcast in the UK on Thursday, ‘Dont’ Panic –The Truth About Population’ was the re-assuring title of an absolutely fascinating programme presented by Hans Rosling, a globally-renowned medical doctor and public health statistician.  Amongst other things, Hans Rosling is Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Here is how the BBC summarises the programme on their BBC iPlayer website:

Using state-of-the-art 3D graphics and the timing of a stand-up comedian, world-famous statistician Professor Hans Rosling presents a spectacular portrait of our rapidly changing world.  With seven billion people already on our planet, we often look to the future with dread, but Rosling’s message is surprisingly upbeat.  Almost unnoticed, we have actually begun to conquer the problems of rapid population growth and extreme poverty.

Across the world, even in countries like Bangladesh, families of just two children are now the norm – meaning that within a few generations, the population explosion will be over.  A smaller proportion of people now live in extreme poverty than ever before in human history and the United Nations has set a target of eradicating it altogether within a few decades.  In this as-live studio event, Rosling presents a statistical tour-de-force, including his ‘ignorance survey’, which demonstrates how British university graduates would be outperformed by chimpanzees in a test of knowledge about developing countries.

From the outset, Rosling is indeed very funny, engaging and, yes, convincing on many fronts.  He presents compelling data to indicate that the ‘population bomb’ has already exploded; and suggests that there remains a great deal of under-used agricultural land in many poor countries around the World.  However, even so, as well as acknowledging that he is not an expert on climate change, he admits that future energy consumption is the biggest problem we face.

The state-of the-art, computerised graphics (projected onto an invisible glass screen) are indeed a very effective way of making complicated historical data – and predictions about the future – seem remarkably simple.  Although I think there are one or two occasions where Rosling overstates his case, in general he presents a wealth of information that suggests that our problems are not only solvable; in many cases they have already been solved.

Nevertheless, as he himself acknowledges in the opening sequence of the programme, given the relentless growth in human resource consumption (even if not population) and what he calls “unpredictable climate change”, humanity now faces “undeniably huge challenges”.  That being the case, you may well ask, how and why is he so positive?  Well the easy answer would be, watch the programme and you will find out.

However, for those of you without the time or ability to watch the programme, which will only be available in the UK on BBC iPlayer for the next few days  – and may not stay posted on YouTube for very long – I will try to summarise its content below.

Rosling’s presentation of 12 thousand years of data (mostly just the last 200 years) is interspersed with fascinating video footage of life for very poor people in Mozambique, etc) but, even so, he manages to be almost unremittingly positive.  Along the way, he highlights numerous misconceptions that British people have regarding the extent to which progress has been made on a range of international problems.  Although I suspect that this is because our media tend only to report bad news, I also think that it is a little too early to declare victory.  We may be winning battles, but the war that humanity is waging against Nature is a very long way from being over.  However, I am getting ahead of myself…  As promised, here are the main points of his presentation, which, as stated above begins with the ending of the last Ice Age (about 12,000 years ago).

Population Growth
Global human population in 10,000 BC is estimated to have been about 10 million.  By 1800 AD it had only grown to 1 billion.  Industrial revolution (mechanisation of agriculture, improved healthcare, etc.) causes doubling to 2 billion by 1920s and 3 billion by 1950s.  By the 1990s it had doubled again but is now slowing (currently 7 billion).

Whereas the global population has doubled in the last 50 years, most growth has been in Asia.  In Bangladesh, for example, the population has tripled from 50 to 150 million in this time.  However, as in developed countries, the number of children women have (i.e. family size or ‘fertility’) reduces with improved education and healthcare.  Since Independence in 1972, Bangladeshi fertility has reduced from 7 to 2.2.  Globally, in the last 50 years, average fertility has reduced from 5 to 2.5.

Life expectancy is more complicated.  The differences between rich and poor countries were much greater in 1963 than they are now.  Life expectancy in poor countries has generally improved from 35 to 50 years.  We clearly live in a much less divided World (compared to 50 years ago).  However, it is simply not true to say – as Rosling does – that “we no longer live in a divided World.”  Such a remark is simply incompatible with the data presented in the programme; and is little more than a rhetorical victory for positive thinking over reality.

Having said that, the demographic transition (towards low birth and low death rates) does appear to be progressing well in most countries.  This is why, in the absence of other complicating factors, global human population is expected to peak at about 11 billion by the end of this Century.

Education and Healthcare
As noted above, family size reduces once women gain improved access to education and healthcare.  Apart from anything else, people choose to have smaller families once they realise that their children are more likely to survive into adulthood.

Pre-1800, 4 out of 6 children died in childhood.  By 1960, however, 4 out of 5 were surviving!  This was the ‘population bomb’.  Today, on average two adults have two children and both survive.   However, global population is still growing because of the increases in life expectancy.

We have reached ‘Peak Child’, there are 2 billion children in the World today and it is expected that there will be 2 billion at the end of the Century; the increased population will be due to there being a lot more older people.  The current baby boom in the UK is a Western anomaly but, not so the prediction that number of people over 80 years will double in the next 25 years.

Population Distribution
As of 2010, the global population comprised 1 billion in the Americas, 1 billion in Europe (including Russia), 1 billion in Africa, and 4 billion in Asia.  Rosling refers to this as “the World’s ‘PIN code’” (i.e. in 2010 it is ‘1114’).  Using this shorthand, Rosling suggests that the Word’s PIN code will by ‘1125’ by 2050 and ‘1145’ by 2100.

Meeting the demand for resources
Professor Rosling acknowledges the huge challenges this inevitable growth will create.  How can we feed all these people; especially if everyone who is now poor is going to become less so?

Before tackling this question, Rosling shows how much life has improved in recent decades for many people in Mozambique (one of the World’s poorest countries).  However, focusing on the poorest of the poor (subsistence farmers), he then paints a startling picture of the long road of technological development:  For subsistence farmers, the first stage in a long progress of self-improvement will be saving up to buy a bicycle.  It is a truly humbling experience to see how significant and revolutionary such a purchase can be.

Still living in a divided World
Of the 7 billion people alive today, the poorest 1 billion live on as little as 1 US dollar per day (1$/day) whereas the richest billion live on 100$/day (or more).  In the middle, the vast majority are in the middle living on about 10$/day.  For those of us who are most fortunate, everyone else seems poor.  However, if you are among the poorest people in the World, the difference between 1$/day and 10$/day is very significant indeed.

Rosling’s favourite illustration is that of improving average national incomes and life expectancies over the last 200 years.  It is true that this shows that all nations are now better off than they used to be.  However, in his characteristically positive way, Rosling focuses on the fact that things are improving fastest for the poorest (rather than on the historical growth of inequality).

Having said that, Rosling does provide compelling evidence to suggest that the UN’s new target – to eliminate extreme poverty within 20 years – may well be achievable:  The ‘only’ things that can get in our way are resource depletion and climate change.

Fossil Fuel Consumption
Rosling admits he is not an expert on how bad the change could get nor how we should minimise it.  However, his presentation of fossil fuel use is very striking:

  • Today 50% is consumed by the richest billion of population; 25% by the 2nd billion; 12.5% by the 3rd billion.
  • This leaves more than half the global population consuming little more than 10%.
  • Given the time it will take for people to drag themselves out of extreme poverty, the problem we face is the growth in demand by those who are already no longer in poverty (extreme or otherwise).

Thus, Rosling suggests that the remaining growth in global population (i.e. from 7 to 11 billion) is not the main problem we face.  However, – and this is where Rosling’s presentation finally becomes quite challenging:  He suggests that those living in richest countries cannot tell others what to do; and that it is entirely legitimate for those who are less fortunate to demand that we moderate our excessive consumption (of both resources and energy).


  1. The problems of extreme poverty and population growth (may well) have been solved.
  2. Climate change is still a massive problem (which we must therefore try to solve).
  3. Excessive per-capita resource consumption in rich countries must now be reduced.

All the data used in the presentation is available at:

32 Responses

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  1. [Cherry-picked quote & blame-shifting argument now follows. – ML]

    “Excessive per-capita resource consumption in rich countries must now be reduced.”

    Good luck with that.

    Plus, it all depends on *who* considers *what* constitutes *excessive*, of course.

    Do you fancy closing down the entire passenger aviation industry, or even trying to restrict its growth? Have you seen how many new wide-body-jet capable airports the Maldives are planning, for example? And how many pristine islands they intend building hotels on? And there’s all those environmentalists insisting they were going to sink without trace in the very near future. Strange…

    And then there’s China. And India. They’re rapidly becoming “rich countries” too. Who is going to tell them they can’t have 72″ flat screen TVs? And air conditioning? And SUVs? And foreign holidays on the other side of the World?

    As I say, good luck, you’ll need it.


    10 November 2013 at 01:04

    • I suppose I should thank you, Catweazle, for not rubbing my nose in the fact that I appear to have toned-down the alarmism on the population front? However, in my defence, I would say that it is sometimes useful to demonstrate a capacity to modify your position in response to facts.

      Rosling puts together a very well-reasoned argument for considering the population bomb to have already exploded. However, unlike you, it seems, he does not dispute the facts that climate change is a problem; that we are causing it; and that there is no way the Earth can support 11 billion people all consuming resources as the richest billion do today. Does this make him a ‘Watermelon’? No it does not, it just makes him consistent with the Laws of Physics.

      Oh yes, and you appear to have overlooked two of the main points Rosling makes:
      (1) The richest billion have no right to tell those who are no longer poor that they should not aspire to be like us; and
      (2) No one has the right to tell the poorest that they cannot use the resources they have to improve their position.

      This then puts the burden of responsibility for action onto those of us who have the technological capacity and freedom to change our behaviour.

      Martin Lack

      10 November 2013 at 10:06

      • “Oh yes, and you appear to have overlooked two of the main points Rosling makes:
        (1) The richest billion have no right to tell those who are no longer poor that they should not aspire to be like us; and
        (2) No one has the right to tell the poorest that they cannot use the resources they have to improve their position.
        This then puts the burden of responsibility for action onto those of us who have the technological capacity and freedom to change our behaviour.”

        Re-read my post, Martin. [I did – and you accused me of seeking to both of those things, when all I am doing is agreeing with Rosling that we have no option – we must all exercise collective restraint or there will not be enough resources to go around. – ML]

        Those were exactly my points. [Further repetition of which has been deleted. – ML]

        Oh, and please don’t get the idea I support conspicuous consumption, I run an old Mercedes turbo diesel (it may be old, but it is comfortable, rapid, does 45MPG is extremely low maintenance, having passed 4 MOTs consecutively with zero faults, that burns cooking oil (although that has as much to do with economy as it has to do with ecology, I picked up a boot full of sunflower oil at 74p per liter last week at the local supermarket), I live in a small, fully insulated cottage fully set up with CFL and LED lighting wherever applicable, and in my 60-odd years have flown precisely 3 times, on no occasion further than Malta, so I have considerable sympathy with your POV. Nor is that because I can’t afford otherwise, because I certainly can.

        But I believe in human nature too (which I believe we are currently unlikely to change our behaviour), and these days, I have no problem with it, because I accept that that’s the way we are, and if we stop being like that, we will lose our position at the top of the food chain, and I like it there!


        10 November 2013 at 17:19

        • Let’s just agree to disagree. The Laws of Physics say we cannot go on as we are. If you wish to deny this, I can’t stop you. But I am inclined to wonder how many tens of thousands of people need to die in super-typhoons before those who can change their behaviour decide they should do so.

          Martin Lack

          11 November 2013 at 11:00

  2. I agree with catweazle666.
    Say the GDP per capita is $400 in one country, $40,000 in another, typical, the later, of the well armed West. That makes the West into the 1%.

    Another point, a tech detail; there is NO WAY that there were only 10,000 people 12,000 years ago. There are around 30,000 polar bears (ursus maritimus) now. Some populations of sea lions were in the millions. Actually some cities in Anatolia at the time clearly had hundreds of people, and there were several in the same region, complete with amphitheater (I have an essay I want to publish on this).

    Patrice Ayme

    10 November 2013 at 06:10

    • Patrice, given that Catweazle appears to be in the ‘there are no limits to growth’ camp of Julian Simon (et al), I think you need should be very careful about saying you agree with him (you never know where that might be quoted).

      Thanks for alerting me to my transcription error. Rosling says population in 10k BC was 10 million (I was only 3 orders of magnitude out).

      Martin Lack

      10 November 2013 at 09:43

      • Dear Martin! Come to my site, there is lots for you there.

        I cannot condemn a correct idea, just because it emanated from a nefarious source, I don’t even do this to Hitler. This allows me to reach a higher level of objectivity, and replace name calling by idea dissection.

        Patrice Ayme

        10 November 2013 at 16:01

        • Since you have still not said, what is the “correct idea” that Catweazle has had?

          Martin Lack

          11 November 2013 at 10:57

        • That you cannot force people to become much poorer. Without war. Please have a look at my version of European history.

          Patrice Ayme

          11 November 2013 at 23:02

        • I have not said that we should force anyone to do anything. That is why I am so annoyed by people like Catweazle and Oakwood who are either willfully ignoring – or deliberately misrepresenting – what I have said.

          For the last time, therefore (in this particular comment thread at least), all I have said – and all that Professor Rosling has said – was that we need everyone on the planet to exercise collective restraint. In other words, do as Garrett Hardin suggested would be necessary – mutual coercion mutually agreed upon – in order to avoid a ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ outcome.

          Martin Lack

          12 November 2013 at 12:25

      • “given that Catweazle appears to be in the ‘there are no limits to growth’ camp”

        Please point out where I said any such thing. Clearly there ARE limits, but I – and the section of the World’s population that matters in this context – are not convinced. Your problem is, we’ve been told that for centuries – possibly millennia, and it hasn’t taken place. Prophets of doom are always with us, you see, and have a poor record.

        I merely pointed out that you are going to have a problem imposing arbitrary limits on the users of civil aviation, flat screen TVs etc, etc. etc.

        Perhaps one day, if there is a clearly demonstrable existential threat – [counter-factual statement of opinion deleted. – ML] – it may be possible to get a significant proportion of the affluent sector of the planet onto a war footing, but… [counter-factual statement of opinion deleted. – ML]

        Which is why I say “good luck with that”.


        10 November 2013 at 17:36

        • I am amazed that evidence is ignored- just because the boy cried wolf and there wasn’t one [in wolf country] didn’t mean a wolf didn’t turn up. Check any historical graph on oil production- finds are going down, the costs of extraction and discovery is going up, the evidence of depletion of the super fields is declining sharply. The aspiring billion is catching up on the top billion for consumption- twice as many consumers and half the reserves.

          Look at the economics- at 2011 $ value oil was £30 barrel from 1940 to 2000 then it stated to climb till 2006 to over $100, and it has stayed that way with no increase in production. Economics and the free market would dictate more supply- so why hasn’t it.

          When the ‘mythers’ jump and show this 8 billion barrel field has been discovered they point to just 4 months of global oil supply. The billions of barrels in the Antarctic would last the world- 5years and then its gone.

          The top billion is screwed.


          11 November 2013 at 10:19

        • Thanks for taking the time to respond to Catweazle’s ‘optimism bias’, Jules.

          Martin Lack

          11 November 2013 at 12:07

        • Thanks for taking the time to explain your position, Catweazle. You may call the limits arbitrary, I consider them to be absolute.

          If the Earth cannot supply the demands of even 1 billion people living as the richest billion do today, it will definitely not be able to meet the demands of 10 billion unless everyone agrees that everyone should consume less. This is what Garrett Hardin said nearly 45 years ago, in his ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ article in the NAAAS journal Science in 1968.

          Climate Scientists are not prophets of doom. The rate of global surface warming may vary but, sadly, as predicted by basic physics, anthropogenic climate disruption continues unabated. Thus, it is you, not me, that needs to read Leon Festinger’s When Prophecy Fails.

          Martin Lack

          11 November 2013 at 11:05

  3. Interesting post Martin. I too caught the programme, though missing the beginning. Your ‘conversion’ on population is reminiscent of that of Bjorn Lomborg in his book ‘The Skeptical Scientist’. If you haven’t read it you should… [I think you mean ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’, your synopsis of which I have deleted (for reasons explained below). – ML]

    You say Rosling does not dispute the seriousness of climate change. But – unless I missed that part in the programme – he does not make any assessment of it. He assumes the consensus view is correct. His assessment was focused on social statistics. Thus, he does not draw any conclusions regarding climate change (but if I missed that part, let me know).

    I also found the story of the Mozambican villager saving for a bicycle moving. But, unfortunately, there are some environmentalists who would oppose this development. Remember the criticisms a few years ago of an Indian company that had developed the 1000 dollar car. This will help pull many more Indian families out of poverty (as well as the safety risk of whole families travelling on one motorbike). But some environmentalists saw it as just another threat. The Mozambican said he will now start to save for a motor bike – and his children will likely save for a car (the 1000 dollar sort). This all means sustainability of the planet will continue to remain a massive challenge. But we cannot keep the poor from increasing their consumer footprint, unless we are prepared to drastically reduce our own. As Catweazle says, ‘good luck’ with that idea. Rosling provides some optimism that perhaps things aren’t as bad as many believe or predict, but of course we have some very very big challenges ahead.

    I hope Rosling does look at climate change statistics. It would be very interesting to hear his considered conclusions.


    11 November 2013 at 08:45

    • Oakwood:
      1. I have read enough of Lomborg to know he is a technological optimist and, therefore, almost certainly exhibiting symptoms of what Dr Tari Sharot calls ‘optimism bias’: The evolutionary survival mechanism that ensures zebras do not give up running when being chased down by lions (etc).
      2. I suspect Rosling accepts the consensus view of climate science because, given the climate disruption we are already witnessing, not doing so is unreasonable and irrational. As I pointed out to you in a previous thread (before you moved on), the number of typhoons hitting Taiwan in recent decades has more than tripled since the 1970s. This implies that over 70% of their typhoons may now be a consequence of the industry-funded denial of climate change!
      3. The way you write, anyone would think “some environmentalists” are the problem. Furthermore, as Rosling emphasises, the poorest on the planet are neither the problem nor capable of solving the problem. Both that liability and that responsibility have now fallen upon us.
      4. I suspect Rosling has already looked at climate statistics (and decided that they cannot be explained unless atmospheric CO2 is the main driver of change) but, why don’t you stop wasting my time and ask him instead? His email address is available on the website of the Karolinska Institute.

      Martin Lack

      11 November 2013 at 11:36

      • If I’m wasting your time, don’t bother to reply to my comments – or delete them altogether…
        [Repetitious comment deleted in accordance with my moderation policy and your suggestion. – ML]


        11 November 2013 at 12:39

        • I trust you will be content with my application of my moderation policy and/or interpretation of your suggestion. However, I live in hope that you will, one day soon, actually allow the possibility that anything I say has some intellectual merit (and is not driven by some ideological bias).

          Martin Lack

          11 November 2013 at 16:17

        • Apply whatever rules you like. Its your blog. But… [yet more unsolicited psychoanalysis (in lieu of legitimate reason for disputing reality, reliability and/or reasonableness of scientific consensus) has been deleted. – ML]


          11 November 2013 at 16:48

        • As per my previous response.

          Martin Lack

          11 November 2013 at 17:18

  4. Half the population live on a rather meagre 10% of fossil fuels- with the majority consuming at a level that would be perhaps ‘sustainable’ for quite a few decades and even allow for a less bumpy transition to renewables. Most of the world would not be a threat to the climate as they are not producing CO2 in such an alarming way.

    The troublemakers are the top billion- their 50% share isn’t even equally distributed- we have the situation that 10% of the top 10% are the excessive ones- and the 1% of those have absolutely no intention on giving up their fabulous wealth and consumption. With cheap credit and the propaganda of the ‘american’ dream [as well as the mention of freedom and liberty] the hope is to convince the top billion [and the billion consumers under them] that they too can join the club.

    Of course we are increasingly aware that our children will be poorer than us. That the benefits are being outweighed by inequality and I’m sure without the promise of wealth many will question why they spend all their time working or sitting in a traffic jam when they struggle to pay for basics.

    In selfish terms- our problem is not the billions of poor people, it is the aspiring billion. They will pay more, an example is Brazil where fast food is twice the price for a burger and fries- because it looks wealthy. just like teenage boys pimp their cars but have zero spending money on anything else.

    In a diminishing resource economy they will fight for the last barrels of oil and the richest billion cannot compete. Just as the leap from $1 to $10 is life changing our drop in real income will have an even greater impact. We cannot compete.

    In the same way we gave up on heavy engineering and adopted high tech industry we will be forced to give up on fossil fuels and adopt alternatives. Better we make that choice and encourage the aspiring billions to jump a technology. It is not a matter of CC mitigation [although it should be] or peak oil [although it should be] it is about economics. Look around, it is happening now.


    11 November 2013 at 10:06

    • Excellent interpretation and synthesis of Rosling (and/or me). Thank you.

      Martin Lack

      11 November 2013 at 11:09

  5. The humble bicycle is indeed a revolutionary contraption. It is my main mode of transportation at the moment as I do not have a car in the UK and I love it. I have never been as happy as when I can get around by bicycle. If only there were more bicycles around to replace some of our cars. We would not only be part-way to solving the transportation crisis but we would also shed kilos from our waists and save money for the NHS.

    I have seen some of Hans Gosling’s stuff before and he is very good and very compelling. I’ll try to watch the BBC program tonight.


    11 November 2013 at 11:28

    • Thanks Rachel. I used to enjoy cycling around York too. Have you discovered the scale model of the Solar system spread out along the old railway line between York and Selby?

      Martin Lack

      11 November 2013 at 11:42

      • I have but I only made it as far as Jupiter because it was further than I was expecting. I’ll go back at some stage though and make it all the way to Pluto.:-)


        11 November 2013 at 12:01

        • “…because it was further than I was expecting.”

          I suspect that is the reaction of most people. It is almost incredible and a very effective learning experience.:-)

          Martin Lack

          11 November 2013 at 12:04

  6. “Excessive per-capita resource consumption in rich countries must now be reduced.”

    Ok, Martin, you say you feel very very strongly about this. To demonstrate you genuinely do, please tell us what you are doing to reduce your footprint. If you don’t or can’t, or if you turn it into a tirade against me, or censor my comments with one of your ‘blocked for being repetitive’ excuses, you will simply demonstrate you are a fraud. But I hope you can prove me wrong. Now is your chance to show you practice what you preach.


    11 November 2013 at 23:09

    • With regret, Oakwood, I must decline to play your games further. I cannot delete your comment because that will confirm your prejudice to be valid (i.e. in your mind only). However, this would be no more valid nor rational than ‘proving’ someone to be a witch by drowning them on a ducking stool. Yours is an unfalsifible and self-sealing argument (and I think you know it is). Because you cannot falsify the logic of my argument (that the Earth cannot support 11 billion people living like the richest do today), you seek once again to ‘shoot the messenger’. As I have said in response to Patrice (i.e. at 12:25 above), I have now explained what I meant and what I did not mean; and I am not going to repeat myself further. I have demonstrated my ability to modify my position in response to facts. Conspicuously, you have not.

      Martin Lack

      12 November 2013 at 12:44

      • You don’t have to put up with this, Martin. It’s your blog. Oakwood does not contribute anything worthwhile here and does not visit here in good faith. Why don’t you ban him?


        12 November 2013 at 12:49

        • I was going to ask you why you conclude Oakwood “does not visit here in good faith” but, upon reflection, the answer is obvious. Shameless repetition of the same arguments and tactics. You are right, of course, whether it be last month or last year, Oakwood has been doing this for a long time and, no, I don’t have to put up with it.

          Martin Lack

          12 November 2013 at 13:16

  7. I do not understand the inter-personal anger here. All the deletions are confusing. I have never deleted one comment of my blog. People from all over can come with correct ideas.

    “Exercising restraint” is not an option, except as a form of pleasant fantasy. The USA is presently set to eat Europe’s lunch and dinner, precisely because it has no restraint, except as a lip service.

    Patrice Ayme

    12 November 2013 at 16:32

    • I would agree with you, Patrice, that anger is not constructive. However, anger and frustration are inevitable when, as I think Rachel has correctly perceived, people do not act in “good faith”. I think, therefore, that you overlook the history of both Catweazle and Oakwood who, I am fairly confident, were trying to use my blog as a forum for perpetually re-enacting Monty Python’s ‘Argument Clinic’.

      I do not know what you mean by the term “correct ideas”. People are entitled to have opinions but, when it comes to science, they cannot all be equally correct. As I have now said many times, people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. And when I say ‘facts’, here, I am thinking of stuff like my last Tweet:

      #InconvenientTruth = #ClimateChange #Denial => policy paralysis => more frequent and more extreme weather events of all kinds.

      Therefore, exercising restraint had better become an option very soon because conspicuous consumption is unsustainable. As with the stock market, so it is with the Earth’s resources: Previous performance is no guarantee of future return on investment. Indeed, as someone once said to me, “Just because I have never died before does not mean I am going to live for ever!”

      The solution to our problems lies in creating the environment for a truly participatory democracy to be established. As climate change policy advisor, John Ashton, says in this excellent 20-minute talk, we need people to see the Future as something they can change (rather than something that is just going to happen to them). If we cannot do this, we might as well all be dead.

      Martin Lack

      12 November 2013 at 17:37

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