Fresh Old Ideas

Arnold Malone

Toronto has a Green Belt consisting of two million acres of recreational and prime farm land. They may be developed for housing. The larger cities of Canada do have a housing crisis. In fact, most citizens living in large urban centres are unable to afford a house and renting swallows up the largest chunk of most people’s income.

In the original Canada, only eight per cent of our massive territory was suitable for food production. Much of that eight per cent is now rendered non-agricultural. There is a historical desire to build cities smack in the centre of our best food producing soils. We need to realize there are only two sources for human food: one is soil and the other is water.

The world’s biggest problem is that there are too many people. When cities such as Toronto or Vancouver expand beyond their natural limits there are bound to be serious repercussions. 

It is a hard-held opinion in North America that population growth is required to sustain a viable economy. However, expanding the human population is a practice that cannot be sustained across the fulness of time.

The United Nations has a committee that evaluates the best countries in the world in which to live. Switzerland ranked first, Norway second and Denmark sixth. What is interesting about these countries is that for decades they have recorded stable populations.

In Canada, by contrast, the Prime Minister’s office – along with an organization called Century 21- advocates that Canada should have a population of 100 million by the end of this century; more than double our present numbers.

Four big issues currently concern society: climate change, housing shortage, world food security and bio diversity. These problems are caused by over-population. 

It took 1,850 years after the birth of Christianity for this planet to reach a population of one billion. 

In the next 87 years the world’s population grew to 2.2 billion. Those 87 years brings us to 1937, the year I was born. In just my lifetime the planet has added another six billion persons; and it wasn’t my fault. 

As a child, I never once heard a discussion about climate change, housing shortage, food security (within Canada) or the need to protect the rights of other species. 

Some demographers argue that the world will grow the human population to 10 billion and then stabilize and perhaps decline. However, eight billion people is already too many to sustain our necessary resources. 

What is needed is a world-wide effort to educate and economically advance the lives of those people in the world’s poorest countries. All countries with an advanced middle class have a stable or declining birth rate. 

Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, along with other countries, have birth rates that are in decline. The question that needs to be asked is: How many people should this planet have at any one time so as to sustain humanity across the centuries?

If each family, world-wide, had half a child less – in practical terms, every second family having one less child – then our population would reduce by one billion in a generation.

Ukraine is supported by 42 countries in her defence against the aggressive invasion by Russia. Surely, we can get a collection of advanced countries to help solve the world’s greatest problem by educating people world-wide.

Today we are immigrating people to build houses for the immigrants who have already arrived.

Anyone who imagines that population growth can continue without end is someone who is blind to the obvious. A world with eight billion people cannot help but experience climate problems, a housing crisis, food shortages and be a threat to all other species.

(Arnold Malone served as MP for Alberta’s Battle River and Crowfoot ridings from 1974 through 1993. He retired to Invermere in 2007.)