Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Population drivel


David Attenborough is a very educated and travelled man ...

... so why is he spreading the myth that the world keeps being invited to solve the problem of famine in East Africa because of something inherently problematic about human population growth?

The hard truth is that the world keeps being invited to solve the problem of famine in East Africa, because the world keeps being willing to do so. The governments of Eastern Africa could easily solve those problems themselves. However, if they devoted their own budget and resources to doing so, then they'd reduce their own budgets and resources. It's simple economics. Since someone else (whether the World Food Programme or other UN branch, or private charity like Oxfam etc.) is already paying for this part of their budget, via the mechanism of disaster relief when the crisis comes, what would be the point in planning ahead. Other than some compassion for their own suffering peoples, that is... ? Sadly such compassion is not present in sufficient quantity to overturn the economic calculation being made.

If you bail me out every time I do X, then I have no incentive to invest my own resources in avoiding X. Follow the money and the thought-lines of selfish hearts.

It's a tricky problem now that we are in this situation, to work out how to extricate ourselves from it. I propose no easy answers. But I'm sure that picking on a convenient scape-goat as Attenborough does is not the answer.

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