The influential writer, George Monbiot’s position on population belies a fundamental detachment from environmental reality. And reality, specifically biophysical reality, is what the green movement and work to assure the survival of sophisticated human societies are all about.
Monbiot writes off population concerns in a simplistic and patronizing manner as a plot by rich white pool and Hummer owners to distract from their own over-consumption. Obviously, to him, they are simple racists so we must ignore them and the whole population issue.
But the people complaining about mass immigration are not jetsetters; they are the people being crushed by housing inflation. They are being forced to move by debt and inflating costs of living. For decades, their wages and job quality have been undercut by a tidal wave of cheap labour. These are not racists with yachts and private jets, but they are very aware of where their problems originate.
Monbiot’s approach denies the essential facts that paving over farmland to accommodate a growing population and moving people from regions of low consumption to high consumption countries are the worst imaginable policies from both national and global points of view. But these policies are also the most profitable one could imagine for the growth lobby which requires asset inflation (money printing) and an endless supply of cheap labour to drive their continued wealth accumulation.
By proposing all sorts of wizard technological fixes, and poo-pooing the largest physical problems, Monbiot talks like an environmentalist but walks like a growth lobbyist. Stating in his “Population Panic” that “The far right now uses the population argument to contest immigration into the US and the UK” he dismisses the entire impact of resource demand and wealth transfer from the middle class and working poor to the rich. When did biophysics leave Monbiot’s worldview?
Can Monbiot, or anyone, come up with a more ludicrous plan than increasing the population of energy intensive northern countries via mass immigration and building their housing on prime farmland as Ontario is doing to the tune of 300 acres per day? What happened to the concept of food resiliency?
Monbiot must be well aware that the combination of cheap labour influx and housing inflation is the perfect engine of inequality. Why obfuscate this corrupt mechanism with charges of racism? In Canada’s case, we have had the highest rate of population growth in the developed world, the lowest rate of productivity increase and our equality level has plummeted from the second highest in the world in the early 1960s to the mid-30s today. This is an unparalleled decline.
The GHG footprint of Canada’s current immigrant stream increases by a factor of 4.2 (a factor of 14 for some) when they enter the country. We have broken every GHG emissions agreement we have signed because of, #1, population growth and #2, oil sands development. Maybe George has some kind words for the poor, misunderstood oil sands to go with his population denial.
Over the past 4 decades, mass immigration, designed to grow the commercial economy, as opposed to balanced immigration which sees as many people enter as leave, has added 10 million people to Canadas population which is now 38 million. These 10 million consumers, 4 million houses and 6 million cars have a greater impact than the oil sands.
Our real per capita debt has quintupled and currently we are paving over that RELIABLE farmland to accommodate the world’s highest rate of immigration. Canada is currently a net food exporter. At what point does it become a net food importer? And from whom should we import food?
In terms of the UK situation, it seems that England’s Green Zone is also really a Swiss cheese of development. Gee, why is that happening George? Sunspots? The UK is a net importer of virtually every commodity one can think of. Why make an unstable and vulnerable situation worse?
Science led us to the conclusion that we have a very large biophysical problem and science, not statements of self-virtue and business-as-usual, might still allow us to mitigate it.
The pandering device of presenting population issues as the means by which rich men shift the blame from their consumption excesses willfully ignores the middle class and working poor who are being crushed by mass immigration and the environmental damage that is its inevitable consequence.
Monbiot is exactly wrong in his characterization of criticism of population growth and mass immigration as the position of the rich. In fact, the resultant growth is the tool of the money-based elites as their business models require property inflation and cheap labour to not only prosper, but even to survive.
The middle class and working poor need higher productivity, higher wages and stable housing costs to thrive, quite the opposite of what Monbiot is supporting. George takes the side of the hedge funds media corporation owners, banks and speculators who need the demand from mass immigration to inflate their property valuation Ponzi of ever-increasing prices.
If the growth lobby wanted to design an ideal means of derailing the environmental movement, they could do no better than to copy Moniot’s combination pinning our hopes in a galaxy of technological breakthroughs combined with the kneecapping of population issues and the smearing of those who point them out.
Besides doing less with far less and rapidly transitioning to renewables, if the well-intentioned wanted to help the world’s poor, they would be calling for a massive increase in foreign aid to mitigate problems in the regions in which they originate. Absorbing problems in other countries is not possible. Europeans proved this when they migrated to the Americas to relieve population pressure in their home countries and acquire more resources than their depleted lands could generate. The migration was a great success unless you take into account the 50 – 90 million Amerindians who died along with their culture.
The growth lobby absolutely needs the environmental movement to have no viable modelling capability to anchor rational discussion. Leaving out population makes any modelling system or serious policy discussion useless.
Unlike many established (and donor-dependent) environmental organizations which have thrown out their biophysical focus for rights virtue-signaling to keep large and controlling well-heeled backers happy, Monbiot seems to have legitimate concern for the subject he so often addresses.
But his denial of the overall impacts of population and especially those of migration from low-consumption regions to high-consumption regions makes him an overall roadblock rather than a net positive contributor to progress. To have any realistic chance of success, we need to have a complete biophysical overview and an open conversation to find the path that reverses our course from our lemming-like charge towards a much less hospitable world.
Ontario Farmland Trust
Canada’s Mystery Emissions