Focus on population pressure
How humans can change their behaviour to preserve the planet will be the subject of a talk given by Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston.
Sir John, chairman of the Institute for Science, Ethics & Innovation at the University of Manchester, will discuss some of the difficult ethical, legal, social and scientific choices we must make as part of his People and the Planet lecture tour.
He is the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Rutherford Memorial Lecturer and will speak at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Tuesday.
With the human population forecast to pass 10 billion this century concerns are growing about how the planet can sustain that many inhabitants, particularly as developing countries increase their consumption patterns to match those of richer countries.
Sir John led the Royal Society of London’s international working group that produced the People and the Planet report to look at the links between global population, consumption and the environment and the implications for sustainable development. He says the per capita consumption in richer countries is far above the level that can be sustained for everyone in a population of seven billion or more.
‘‘It is not feasible for all of Earth’s present inhabitants to consume material resources at the current rate of most developed countries.
‘‘If we do nothing, the discrepancy will increase as population increases from seven billion at present to 10 billion or more this century.
‘‘Furthermore, our descendants ought to have opportunities at least as great as those we ourselves enjoy but if we continue in our current style they will not.’’
He will explore how the needs of developing countries as well as the needs of the planet and future generations might come together in a future framework.
He was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2002 for work on understanding the development of the nematode (worm) Caenorhabditis elegans.
He is a fellow of the Royal Society (London) and an honorary fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge.
Unsustainable: Sir John Sulston will address consumption in the developed world in his People and the Planet lecture.