Saturday, June 28, 2008


Dear Ben West, Chairperson of The Green Party of Vancouver,

A friend has alerted me to a quote you have made in a letter you wrote to the Mayor of Vancouver, Sam Sullivan:

"Densification is of course environmentally positive in so far as it prevents the devastation of agricultural lands or wilderness areas but this initiative if not part of an overarching smart growth land use plan would not accomplish this goal."

I have some questions for you.

How is it "environmentally positive" to concentrate people into highrise apartment complexes where it takes massive energy inputs to treat their drinking water and sewage, run their elevators, maintain their multi-story parking garages, power their artificial indoor fitness club environments, and bring them food and resources from distances that grow in proportion to their population size, giving them no hope of growing their own food to survive the new end-of-cheap-energy era?

Isn't it more environmentally friendly for people to live in the country where their water needs no chlorine or UV treatment and their sewage requires no chemical treatments and their septic tank uses less energy per person in its lifecycle than urban waste treatment facilities? Just because people own no land doesn't mean they don't require resources from land in order to survive. Wouldn't it make more sense for people to live on the same land where their food comes from, work this land with their own muscle instead of with machines, and find wood for heating and building materials from their own land instead of importing it from far-away industrial clearcuts? Of course, for this ultra low footprint lifestyle (rural, not urban) to work really well, there would have to be few enough people that each person could have enough quality and quantity of land that they could be self-sufficient without breaking their back.

In the upcoming era of depleted fossil fuels whereby the only oil, coal, wood, and natural gas remaining will take more energy to extract than what you get out of it, we simply will not have a use for so many urban bureaucrats living densely in highrise apartments. The earth's carrying capacity will be drastically reduced due to lack of energy resources. Finding a new unprecedentedly abundant source of energy with zero impact on the environment is not only impossible, but it is also undesirable as it would enable humans to further grow their population, which would displace even more other species, destroy biodiversity services, and therefore lower quality of life on earth for humans.

Would you agree that it is not just the average consumer's consumption level that is relevant, but also the number of consumers?

Whether population growth occurs in the city, in the suburbs, or in the country, is there such a thing as "Smart Growth" when it still involves population growth, which guarantees that environmental damage will increase no matter what conservation measures are imposed? (HINT: Each person must consume finite resources and produce waste just in order to survive. If the number of people keeps growing, it is only a matter of time before the total environmental damage increases even if the theoretical minimum for average per capita consumption is achieved.)

Are you one of those people who uses cliches like "You can't stop progress" or "Growth is inevitable" as a cop-out excuse for letting our environment get worse, while lying at the same time by telling people that our environment can get better alongside continued population growth so long as this growth is "managed/contained/smart/densification/steered/deflected"?

How long will Canada's protected areas be protected if our 1% annual population growth trend continues (doubling our numbers every 70 years); how many National and Provincial Parks will relax legislation to allow agriculture, roads, power corridor easements, mining, native hunting, increased camp sites and recreational development, etc to meet this growing demand? How many Parks will incidentally fall victim to air and groundwater pollution as well as poaching and alien specvies infestations caused by Canada's population growth?

Would it not be prudent for the Green Party of Canada to advocate lower immigration to Canada so that Canada can set a good example in an overpopulated world by reducing its population to a sustainable level to avoid mass species extinctions and human deaths due to the downside of Peak Food caused by fossil fuel depletion?

Thanks and I look forward to your reply,

Brishen Hoff
President of Biodiversity First

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