Fo­cus on pop­u­la­tion pres­sure

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

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.

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