The myopic socialist gospel is never better revealed than in this speech by Labour MP David Kidney. 1. He rejects Porritt's 2 child policy because he had three brothers and a successful mom. So I guess everybody in the UK can have 4 kids then?
2. By implication he favours Monbiot's position. It's all our fault for hogging resources, third world folks should not be responsible for how many kids they have. 3. No one has the right to interfere with reproductive choice. This laissez faire attitude is odd coming from a socialist, who by definition, wants government to interfere with damn near everything. Especially our right to free speech. 4. Lets focus new technology to help farmers grow more food for more people. Technology to replace soil nutrients? And does he think about wild habitat taken over by human pop growth? So many obvious flaws in his thinking---thinking so typical of his ilk.
Global Population Growth
Mr. David Kidney (Stafford) (Lab): It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr. Illsley, and I know that as usual you will be firm but fair in chairing the proceedings. It is also a pleasure to see the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis), in his place to respond to the debate. I have followed his career with great pride and joy and am pleased that he has been so successful. I wish him well in his new job in Government, which is an exciting but difficult one.
The local council in Stafford is today unveiling its proposals for a consultation on its next local development framework. The Conservative- controlled Stafford borough council will be explaining why it has agreed to a Labour Government plan for a growth point at Stafford, because it has agreed to take 20 per cent. more new housing over the next 20 years than it would have had to take under a normal calculation. I am sure that there will be great controversy locally about why we must have all that house building in Stafford in the next 20 years. When people such as myself explain that it is because of the growing population and the need for housing, people ask me where that growing population comes from and why we have to have it.
There are many explanations of our need for more housing, but much of that need relates to demographic change and not necessarily to immigration change. Those questions illustrate on a small scale in one place in this country the population growth going on around the world, which should concern people but does not get the airing and debate that it should receive.
After I secured the debate, I suddenly started to see the topic attracting comment and attention in the media. Last week, George Monbiot wrote in The Guardian about population growth being a serious concern, and argued that we should blame not the poor for having children, but the rich for hogging more than their fair share of the world’s resources. This week Sir Jonathon Porritt was reported in the Telegraph headlines for saying that there should be a two-child limit in future on the size of families. He referred to irresponsible parents who have more than two children and green campaigners who betray their membership by not debating that important issue. I would very much like to dissociate myself from his comments, particularly as I am one of four boys born to my very successful mother and father, who are both sadly dead. My approach is different, and I would like to explain it this morning.
It is important that we focus on the part that population growth will play as a more general issue in sustainable development. The population of this country has now passed 60 million and is forecast to reach 77 million by the middle of the century. The world’s population has passed 6 billion and is forecast to reach 9 billion over the same time scale. That would mean an increase in the world’s population of 6 million every month, which is a staggering statistic.
I am drawn to the debate on population because of my initial concerns for the environment and the urgency of our task to combat climate change. The Climate Change Act 2008 was a world first in setting a binding target for cutting carbon emissions by at least 80 per cent. by 2050. I took part in the debates as we crafted
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that Act. We of course have to mitigate by reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases and adapt by preparing for rising sea levels, warmer summers, wetter winters and more unpredictable weather events, but as I asked on Second Reading, where is the discussion about the effect on all our plans of the level of population we will be working with?
My approach is very different from that of Sir Jonathon Porritt. I do not think that society should interfere in the free choices people make about having children, and I want the world community to discuss all aspects of sustainable development, including population size. In this debate, I want to focus on two points that arise as a result of a growing population. First, given that there will be a larger population in the future, how can we manage the world’s resources to meet their needs? Secondly, can we agree that, on balance, the world will be a safer place if we can stabilise the population at a lower level than currently forecast, and if so, what can we do to achieve that stability?
I will look first at the resources for a larger world population. Currently, over 1 billion people—about one sixth of the population—live on an income lower than $1 a day. The balance between those living rural or urban lives shifted last year: for the first time, more of us are urban dwellers. As the population grows and land use continues to shift towards urban living, we will need smarter ways of providing water for drinking, washing and irrigation and of farming to produce enough food for everyone. As we know from our plans in the UK for cutting carbon emissions, we will have to replace much of our carbon-based energy with renewable sources.
I shall now discuss the implications for water. One in three people in the world already face water shortages, and there are significant areas of water stress now. The Pentagon produced a risk assessment a while ago that identified competition for limited water supplies as potentially a major cause of future conflicts, and we can anticipate migration away from areas of water shortage. Also, we can see that rising sea levels will create too much water in some areas, which will cause flooding, wash away people’s homes and again trigger migration.
We saw last year that prices rise when food is scarce, often beyond the reach of local people, and we witnessed serious riots around the world due to food shortages and unaffordable prices. It was certainly a wake-up call for the international community and our own Government and food producers that food security is even more basic than energy security. The forecast rise in the global population means that demand for food is expected to rise by 50 per cent. by 2030, so we need the agricultural research and development I have mentioned to stimulate agricultural production in all parts of the world. It is a big ask: more food from less land. There will be less land because of the urbanisation I have described. At home and abroad, it is essential that our Government promote long-term investment in research, science and technology to support farmers everywhere.
In other words – watch me stand on my head while I bring you valuable thoughts!