A while back, there was a scary lady on the news. She was the representative of something ominously called the Optimum Population Trust. Her hair rose a good six inches above her head, and she was almost certainly from Surrey.
The Optimum Population Trust’s website is nicely done out in pink. The Trust appears to be a selfless consortium of the environmentally concerned and socially responsible. Concerned about the speed of global warming? it asks, About the effects of overpopulation on a plundered planet?
Well, I, er… About the UK’s failure to stabilise its own population? Ahhhh.
Just below these probing entreaties is a world population counter that ticks away like a tolerance timebomb as you wiggle your cursor around trying to decide what to click on first. They all sound so inviting! Let’s see.
Too many people in the UK… Too many people in Europe… Too many people ON EARTH… The caps are mine. I quiver with terror as I click in. Is this in fact a direct policy tool? Will the over-curious be digitally exterminated for the good of the Race?
No, don’t be silly, Mortimer. It’s a perfectly legitimate organisation supported and led by many eminent people of all political stripes, making a good and terrifying point about the effect of a rising population on a planet whose natural resources are dwindling.
A shame therefore that it lays itself open to the charge of playing to extremist views, quoting the following as though it supported the core argument:
Those who already inhabit the UK recognise the dangers: in an Ipsos-Mori poll carried out in August 2006, 33% of respondents identified population growth as the most serious threat to the future wellbeing of Britain, second only to terrorism and ahead of climate change. Yet no political party has a policy aimed at stabilising and reducing today’s environmentally unsustainable population.
Firstly, the poll was incorrect to separate out population growth and climate change, but the results of its having done so are revealing. If all those respondents had really been as selflessly concerned with environmental impacts as the OPT chooses to believe, surely they would all have put climate change first. Moreover, many of those who inhabit the UK also “recognise” that those filthy Eastern Europeans have our benefits system in their sights, that gay people aren’t fit to adopt, and that they should be allowed to use their car as much as they want, and that includes driving their perfect children the thirty yards to school. That doesn’t mean that even a Tory government would be stupid enough to formulate policy to support them. If the Optimum Population Trust isn’t being disingenuous in this po-faced little paragraph, it is at the very least guilty of total cretinism.
However, it will come as a surprise to precisely no-one that my biggest problem with the OPT statement is that no-one has bothered to seek out Lib Dem policy on the issue (yawn). Paras 7.4.3 to 7.3.5, birth-control fans. I mean, no doubt we could make more of this than we do, but we have enough trouble getting people to take on board our tax policy…