News & Media News Population is ‘our biggest challenge’ says government chief scientist Sir John Beddington

Population is ‘our biggest challenge’ says government chief scientist Sir John Beddington

DEA has a population policy and we remind DEA members that population growth is one of the main drivers in climate change. This excellent article from The Ecologist will bring you up to date—

The next world population milestone of 8 billion will come sooner than we think – perhaps as early as 2025 – yet we remain reluctant to debate the issue. A forthcoming Royal Society report may force us to
While many commentators look ahead to 9 billion by 2050 there is a more immediate statistic that ‘frightens’ the UK government’s chief scientist: 1 billion extra people in the next 13 years.

Speaking at a joint WWF and Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) event last week, which looked ahead to the Rio+20 conference in June, John Beddington told an audience that half of that population increase would come from Asia and most of the other half from Africa. Based on the UN’s projections, he said Africa’s population would grow ‘frighteningly fast’ from 1 billion today to 1.5 billion by 2025-2030.

He went on to lament the issue of population as ‘under thought’ and ‘our biggest challenge’ as it exacerbates existing problems over access to water and other resources.

Much of the population increase in Africa and Asia will see more people living in and migrating to areas of environmental risk, such as coastal cities, said Beddington, which as the recent Foresight report on Migration and Environmental Change points out, will put more at risk from flooding and rising sea levels.

Beddington’s protestations are broadly similar to those being made by many others outside government such as Sir David Attenborough, who calls silence over the issue an ‘absurd taboo’.

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