Thursday, March 15, 2007


Lorne Calvert,
Premier of Saskatchewan.
March 14/07.

Re. The latest census report:

I wish to offer my hearty congratulations to you, your government and your province, for once more lowering your population level. This is an achievement for the whole country and the whole world to emulate. At 6.5 billion people, the planet is anywhere between three and six times beyond its carrying capacity. The best assessment is a 20% “over-shoot”.
Canada itself has been estimated by one educated observer to be over-populated by a factor of four to ten. Some say that we can viably support only 6 million people in the long term. The most optimistic guess was provided by Dr. Neil K. Dawe of the Qualicum Institute, who said that Canada might sustain its current population if we consumed at 1950 levels. But if we grow to 40 million, we will have to go back to 1935 levels.
For too long growth-a-holics have driven our population agenda, and the question has always been what our economy requires rather than what our environment can sustain. Never has “carrying capacity”, “sustainability” or “biophysical limits” been part of the conversation. Now along comes the census report and the media act as cheerleaders for growth while ordinary Canadians suffer more pollution, more congestion, more crime, unaffordable housing, subdivided farmland and diminished biodiversity.
Saskatchewan is cited as a “loser” in the census count, while the media anoints B.C. a “winner”. Let me assure you, speaking as a British Columbian, you are the winner. Fewer people, a healthier environment and a higher quality of life. We do not live in an “economy”. We live in a biosphere, of which the economy is only a subset. Continue to degrade biodiversity services as we have done through unrelenting population growth and the economic forces it unleashes and you undercut the human economy. We foul our own nest. We must relieve the pressure. That’s just what you’ve done. Good work. Keep it up.

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