Population, environment and conflict
Roger Martin, Population Matters
The paper traces historic competition and conflict over scarce resources throughout evolution, and among early agricultural and industrial societies. It describes how population growth increases pressure on the natural environment and on farmland soils and water supplies, becoming both the spur for and means of provoking violent conflict with neighbouring communities, states and empires. It outlines several contemporary sources of tension over food, water, energy and other natural resources, in the context of the approaching ‘perfect storm’ of population growth, climate change and peak oil. It cites examples of the strange omission of any reference to the population driver, and thus to the consequent need for well-funded programmes of family planning and women’s empowerment, in many current reports on global issues where they are clearly relevant, ascribing this to an irrational taboo. It contrasts the importance of this issue with the ‘derisory’ aid for family planning; and makes some recommendations.