Mixed Reviews for The Royal Society’s Report on the Planet

Compiled by Newsbyrd Staff-

(April 26, 2012)  Reports on the status of the environment by leading scientists are always well accepted by those sympathetic to the cause.  Often they are quoted in the media, followed by an “I told you so” Op-Ed and the reporters and their research staff wander off to an early lunch as a reward for their noble effort.

Yesterday, The Royal Society released a report on what they call the joint problems of consumption and population. But not everyone was happy with the piece.

Earlier today, Tim Worstall of the The Telegraph said of the report: “It has one excellent bit, some good bits – but unfortunately, given that the people writing one half of the report seem to have failed to read the other half, as a whole it’s a dismal failure.  Worstall went on to make his case in a lengthy point by point, front page dissertation.

After reading both the Royal Society Report and Worstall’s comments, I would agree that there are numerous “disconnects” within the report, while some of Worstall’s more minor points could be easily viewed as “nit-picking!”

But all-in-all, the report’s major points are common war cries of today’s environmentalists:

“World population needs to be stabilized quickly and high consumption in rich countries rapidly reduced to avoid a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills, and

“Contraception must be offered to all women who want it and consumption cut to reduce inequality.”

“The number of people living on the planet has never been higher, their levels of consumption are unprecedented and vast changes are taking place in the environment. We can choose to rebalance the use of resources to a more egalitarian pattern of consumption … or we can choose to do nothing and to drift into a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future”, it says.

The report  puts earth’s population at 9-billion people by the year 2050. At that rate and from the time authors first put pen to paper (21 months ago), the earth’s population has grown by 95-million individuals. That’s the present size of Australia, North Korea, Hong Kong, Syria and Taiwan combined.

Following are some of the report’s key recommendations:

  1. The international community must bring the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day out of absolute poverty, and reduce the inequality that persists in the world today. This will require focused efforts in key policy areas including economic development, education, family planning and health.
  2. The most developed and the emerging economies must stabilize and then reduce material consumption levels through: dramatic improvements in resource use efficiency, including: reducing waste; investment in sustainable resources, technologies and infrastructures; and systematically decoupling economic activity from environmental impact.
  3. Reproductive health and voluntary family planning programs urgently require political leadership and financial commitment, both nationally and internationally. This is needed to continue the downward trajectory of fertility rates, especially in countries where the unmet need for contraception is high.
  4. Population and the environment should not be considered as two separate issues. Demographic changes, and the influences on them, should be factored into economic and environmental debate and planning at international meetings, such as the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and subsequent meetings.

The Royal Society is a Fellowship of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.

Working Group (The Royal Society) chair Sir John Sulston FRS, Chair of the Institute for Science, Ethics & Innovation, University of Manchester.

Tim Worstall is a Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, and one of the global experts on the metal scandium, one of the rare earths.
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Posted by at April 26, 2012
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