The Myth of Canada’s Underpopulation: Lay it to rest

May 13, 2011 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Tim Murray for sending me this paper by Madeline Weld.  See

The Myth of Canada’s Underpopulation: Lay it to rest

by Madeline Weld

Every so often policy wonks or talking heads hyperventilate about Canada’s need for more people. The growth boosters take the crude numbers for Canada’s land surface area (about 9.1 million square kilometers) and divide it by Canada’s population (34 million) and conclude that there’s a desperate shortage of people, a paltry 3.3 per square kilometer. In the summer of 2010, no amount of coverage seemed too much for a proposal by Irvin Studin that Canada could better meet its potential and have more international clout if there were 100 million of us. In January of 2011, Canada’s nationally read paper, the Globe and Mail, printed an editorial by Neil Reynolds called “Go forth, multiply and fill the provinces” which urged Canadians to do exactly that.

Such ecological illiteracy in an era when we are allegedly all becoming more aware about the human impact on the environment is stunning. The best explanation that I can think of for the media promoting such ideas is that the media tend to be owned by those who benefit from growth. Most Canadians do not. Satellite images of the world at night do show that most of Canada is as dark and uninhabited as Antarctica. But a bit of thought would lead to the conclusion that those parts of Canada are “underpopulated” for the same reason that Antarctica is: they are inhospitable to humans. Moving people to Canada’s “empty” spaces would significantly raise their energy consumption and greenhouse gas production – and Canada’s are already among highest in the world.

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