Population Matters Update - March 2016 Part I


Smaller populations mean healthier, happier societies with a better quality of life, according to our latest briefing. The briefing explores the social impact that population decline would have on the UK, and the benefits it could bring for society.

Chris Packham. (Photo credit: @ Graham Racher)

Our patron Chris Packham argued eloquently for population concern in a recent article for The Times, and also in a recent programme on BBC Radio Four. Chris highlighted the importance of increased access to family planning and sex education and the benefits of smaller families.

Our Chief Executive, Simon Ross, has written in The Huffington Post to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Malthus. Simon argued that Malthus’ views about the dangers of a growing population are still just as relevant today. He has also had a letter published in The Times and another in the Evening Standard.

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Skills shortages in the UK would not be helped by a growing population, according to our new briefing. Empowering women and better communication between employers and universities are better means of closing the skill gap.

London’s population may exceed 13 million by 2050

London’s population may exceed 13 million by 2050. The government has suggested that 200,000 more homes could be required immediately to accommodate this level of growth, in south west London alone — and the number of new homes needed for London as a whole will be much higher.

Traffic in Britain has reached its highest level ever in the past year, with 317 billion miles travelled in 2015. The figure is 1.1 per cent more than the pre-recession peak in the year ending September 2007.

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We have publicized a list of optimistic assumptions required for food sufficiency for 10 billion people by 2050. The list, originally composed by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady-State Economy, includes many assumptions that ignore the likely effects of climate change.

Research suggests that conifer forests may slightly exacerbate global warming

Certain types of European tree are actually contributing to global warming, according to researchers from the Laboratory of Climate Science and Environment. Six per cent of the global temperature increase that had been attributed to fossil fuels is now being blamed on the growth of species like conifers in the forests of Europe. The reason is that conifers such as pines and spruce are generally darker and absorb more heat than species such as oak and birch, when they are used to replace them.

New research from the Royal College of Physicians suggests that pollution is causing up to 40,000 deaths per year in the UK. The resultant diseases and conditions are putting enormous pressure on the NHS, with asthma alone costing the UK taxpayer up to £1 billion per year.

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Our latest submission to the International Development Committee argues that the Department for International Development could best help Nigeria by doing more to promote access to family planning: only 15 per cent of the population currently has access to contraception.

Research suggests children from smaller families tend to be happier, healthier and more intelligent

Children from smaller families are happier, healthier and more intelligent, according to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The more siblings a child has, the lower the quality of education they receive on average.

The fast-spreading Zika virus has been linked to birth defects in Latin America. We are calling for better access to family planning to limit the effects of the virus.

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Population Matters Update is edited by Lily Chamberlain.


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