Opinion: Hans Rosling is ecologically illiterate

November 22, 2013 • Daily Email Recap

Hans Rosling is ecologically illiterate
November 12th 2013
See: http://www.populationmatters.org/2013/population-matters-news/hans-rosling-ecologically-illiterate/

Don’t Panic – The Truth About Population: broadcast on BBC Two, 11:20PM Thu, 7 Nov 2013; available on BBC iPlayer until 9:59PM Thu, 14 Nov 2013 Duration 60 minutes

This widely publicised programme is introduced by the BBC as follows: ‘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.’

To that, we respond as follows:

Yes, the UN projects that the human population may well peak at around 11 billion in around 100 years, time. Yes, the UN is seeking to end extreme poverty.

We in Population Matters are not reassured.

That is because the programme failed to consider in any detail resource scarcity and depletion, environmental degradation and climate change.

The Global Footprint Network, in association with the WWF and the Zoological Society of London, tell us that humanity is already consuming renewable ecological resources at a rate 50% higher than can be produced sustainably, while non-renewables are steadily depleted. The consequences, which are already with us, are rising resource prices, and environmental degradation. These will of course be increased by a world population some 60% higher than the current level, as well as by rapid industrialisation of countries which have not yet done so.

To read the full opinion, please click here: http://www.populationmatters.org/2013/population-matters-news/hans-rosling-ecologically-illiterate/

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