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Planet Earth - babies need not apply

By Malcolm King - posted Monday, 27 April 2009

No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that there lived among us, beings whose cool and calculating aim was to depopulate the earth, starting with Australia.

In Australia, their leader is former SA Democrat Sandra Kanck who recently called for the introduction of a Chinese style one-child per family policy to get Australia’s population down to 7 million - or about what it was in the Great Depression of 1929.

Readers of On Line Opinion might be a bit mystified by the recent push by Kanck and others who are calling for one child or two children per family (they can’t seem to agree on that last point). The reason is that the Chair of the British Government sponsored Sustainable Development Commission, Jonathon Porritt, is behind Ms Kanck and he makes no secret that population control is a key objective of global green campaigns.


"I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate," Mr Porritt said in The Times Online.

Ms Kanck’s message is simple. We live in a finite world with limited resources. The only way the world can survive is to reduce the number of energy consumers from generation to generation. By “energy consumers” she means people. You and me.

There are so many things wrong with this Malthusian proposal that it’s hard to know where to start. First of all, it’s not the number of people on the earth (we can feed more than the estimated 9 billion people by the year 2050, when population growth tapers off), it’s the first world’s consumption.

If you believe that we are like rabbits, living a defined piece of land, with simple inputs and outputs, then you’ve got to side with the Malthusians. If though, you believe that humans are more than the sum of their parts, then you have to reject the much of their thinking. Towards the end, even old Malthuse thought his theories were wrong.

Here’s one problem: just when the anti-corporatist movement and the carbon reduction push was getting momentum, in steps the Malthusians (I call them the old systems thinkers) from the far left of the environmental movement who label people “units” or “human resources”. They want to institute the paternalistic and imperialistic family planning policies that plagued India, South America and China in the 1950s and 60s.

Indeed, the type of family planning that Ms Kanck suggests will rip birth control out of the hands of women and place it in the hands of the state. It’s odd that after the RU486 fight of 2006 that she should raise this now.


Professor Matthew Connelly from Columbia University said in an interview with myself recently:

Some people who have pushed for population control sincerely believe that it is the only way to save poor people from themselves. But even if some couples will make poor choices, governments have done an even worse job in deciding who should be able to have children, and how many they should be able to have. It's typically the most powerless members of society who are hurt in the process. And this sordid history has done tremendous damage to the cause of reproductive rights.

Professor Connelly has spent seven years investigating the phenomenon of population control.

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About the Author

Malcolm King is a journalist and professional writer. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University in Adelaide. He runs a writing business called Republic.

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