Response to Australia’s Climate Change Minister Penny Wong

December 20, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Tim Murray for his response to Australia’s Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.


I understand that Australia, if it keeps to its present course, is projected to grow its population by some 14 million people, or 65%, in just 25 years. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong of the growthist Labor administration of Kevin Rudd, was asked this question on September 21/09:

“Minister, Australia’s population is projected to increase by 65% to the level of 30m people by 2050. During that same period, the government is committed to cutting our carbon emissions by 60%. Aren’t those goals or those facts mutually exclusive? How are we going to massively cut carbon as our population continues to massively grow?”

Penny Wong:
“Well, absolutely not, because the key issue with reducing emissions is that we have to de-link our levels of carbon pollution from economic growth and population growth. We have to … Whereas the last few hundred years emissions growth – that is, growth in our carbon pollution – has essentially tracked our population and economic growth, we have to break that link and that the whole world has to break that link and so does Australia. So the key issue here is breaking that link, not, not trying to reduce population.”

Letter to the Minister:

Penny, I have a weight problem. My doctor tells me that if I persist in eating a litre of ice-cream every day, I will increase my weight by 65% in just 25 months. But since it is chocolate ice-cream, I feel it is racist to pin the blame for my growing girth on it. I also feel that it is possible to “de-couple” my weight gain from my caloric intake.

In fact, while I now wolf down 4,000 calories a day, I believe that I should look forward to doubling that intake by 2035. I need a caloric stimulus package that will kick-start my body and brain from its current slow-down. I can compensate for any negative consequences by metabolizing the ice cream more efficiently. I call it “smart gluttony”, and already the environmental movement is wanting to adopt the phrase as a slogan for their “green living” tips.

If I buy green-coloured ice cream, lime-flavoured, it would be a symbolic statement of my fresh approach to a sustainable future for my body. As we know, cosmetic labeling in and of itself usually suffices for a substantive policy shift.

Ms. Wong, I must congratulate you for your faith in human ingenuity. Julian Simon was right. Malthusians chronically underestimate our intelligence. With enough brainpower, we can have our cake (or ice cream) and eat it too. Ice cream that doesn’t consist of calories. Growth that doesn’t result in carbon emissions. The Peter Pan School of Greenwash. Make a wish that growth will have no ecological cost, and that wish will make it true. Pure magic. Hey, I have seen that trick played in Canada too. We signed on to the Kyoto accords in 1990 with the promise that we would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 6% by 2012 but by 2006 we were 22% beyond our emissions level in 1990. Of course, that had nothing to do with the fact that immigrant-driven growth has increased our population level by 22% (27.7 to 33.7 million today). Like the environmental establishment, we simply ‘de-coupled’ our imagination from reality. Population growth, where? Who cares? Perhaps we could become a race of 15 billion “breatharians” who simply subsist on air in a world where thirst is decoupled from water use and hunger is decoupled from food use. As our population grows, so grows the pool of our ideas. The sky is the limit!

Oh to be young again. Hopeful, credulous and cornucopian.

Tim Murray
September 25/09

Current World Population


Net Growth During Your Visit