[Taxacom] Pro-natalism vs. biodiversity

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Thu Jan 28 20:02:07 CST 2010

With respect, Richard, there is no solution. By that I mean neither better education for women nor the elimination of poverty will have a significant impact on biodiversity loss.

There are already too many people, and optimistic UN demographers forecast a plateau of 9 billion, up from the current ca 7 billion, in a few decades. Even assuming we do plateau, the sustained environmental impact of that many people will be the continued steady loss of Earth's biological resources. It isn't our increase that's causing species loss, it's just our being here and living our ordinary lives. We need land and water, and the only way we can get those is to take them from other species. We're careless about resource use and waste disposal, which leads to further extinction. We facilitate invasions by diseases, parasites and animal and plant weeds, which lead to further extinction. We've apparently modified the Earth's climate, which will lead to further extinction. These four things (and perhaps others) are the drivers of biodiversity loss, and neither reducing the birth rate nor raising living standards addresses the core problem, which is that there are too many people *now*.

There's lots of debate about when people went into ecological overshoot; some observers think it was the 1970s. I suspect it was during my lifetime of 64 years, during which world population increased about 2.7X; I expect it will have tripled from my birth year when I die. That's interesting but the carrying capacity of the Earth for humans isn't the issue here. It's how many of the living things that we taxonomists study can be carried on an Earth full of humans. What's the nadir-flat (opposite of plateau?) for biodiversity?
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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