Population can’t increase forever

Alan Baird writes: Re. “Keane: curbing population to cut emissions lazy and damaging” (Friday). Labelling population constraints “lazy” is “lazy reasoning”. We’ve received all sorts of specious logic from the population denialists over the years, often using the “growth fetish” as a leading argument, conveniently ignoring the fact that growth (as we currently measure it) can’t go on for ever. We don’t have infinite possibilities, as much as pollies like to claim we do. However, with everything burgeoning (consumption times population), we should be able to achieve some of the highest-quality disasters, with truly impressive figures. We are currently in a race to develop poor countries so that their standard of living improves while their birthrate reduces. This will be a close run thing (bloody hard, really), with many, many societies seriously overcrowded with terrible economies, let alone developed countries such as Australia and the US doing their best to emulate the worst. I realise that both sides of politics enthusiastically and mindlessly endorse a “more bums on seat” policy, pretending that small numbers of boat people are a big problem while simultaneously studiously ignoring huge numbers of “plane people”. What is especially galling is Julia Gillard’s repudiation of a”Big Australia” while continuing the Howard-Rudd policy. The Greens are pretty soft here, too. We need a new “hard dark-green” party. We also need to stop criticising European countries with contracting numbers as “stagnating”, too. They’re vastly preferable to desperate poverty-stricken countries with nil family planning.

Finally, we need to flush out the old canard about the baby boomer population bulge moving through causing fiscal problems for the following generations. If we augment the present population to help pay for baby boomer pensions, what will happen when the new, later bulge moves through to pensionable age? Do it all again, and again, and again, overshooting for ever? Demographers are the worst offenders here, but then again I’ve never heard a journalist pull them up!

Eye on the ball

Todd Hayward writes: Re. “Melbourne Machine out, leaving Rocket Ronnie to snooker” (Friday). How wonderful to read Guy Rundle’s updates from the home of the World Snooker Championship, the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

As a snooker player since the age of four and a member of the media and communications industry for almost two decades, I would happily swap assignments with Rundle for the 17 days of high drama on the green baize in one of the world’s great theatrical arenas.

One small correction to Rundle’s article — Robert Milkins in fact defeated Jimmy White in the final qualifying round — not Jimmy Higgins — before pulling a stunning upset and beating Melbourne’s Neal Robertson in the first round proper.  Rundle has morphed two of the game’s most enigmatic legends — two-time world champion Irishman Alex Higgins and six-times runner-up Englishman Jimmy White — into one magnificent fantasy in his report. If only that were possible, snooker fans would be treated to some truly unforgettable performances and memorable stories. As far as I know Higgins is the only professional sportsman to be banned for pissing into a pot plant at a playing venue and then headbutting an official who had the gall to question this act. Unfortunately he died a couple of years ago from lifestyle-related illnesses. Jimmy White — somewhat reminiscent of Jimmy Barnes but with a piece of maple in his hands — still regularly serves up flashbacks of his brilliant career. But the competitive spirit of both live on this year in troubled genius and defending world champion “Rocket” Ronnie O’Sullivan, arguably now the greatest people’s champion of them all.

Love the reports. Keep your head down and your eye on the ball for the next fortnight.

No change of heart

Peter Matters writes: Re. “‘Abortion pill’ RU486 likely to be listed on the PBS — for now” (Friday). There is not the slightest doubt that Tony Abbott sudden change of policy is due to his obsessive craving for the top job. It is simply playing politics — he will not under any circumstances change his own wired to the 19th-century opinion of women’s place in a male-dominated society.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey