Tuesday, February 5, 2019

GWPF Newsletter - Empty Planet: The Shock Of Global Population Decline

Nearly One Million Britons Cancel BBC TV Licence

In this newsletter:

1) Empty Planet: The Shock Of Global Population Decline
David Goodhart, The Sunday Times, 3 February 2019 
2) The Price Of Bias: Nearly One Million Britons Cancel BBC TV Licence
Daily Mail, 2 February 2019

3) What Goes Up: Why Predictions Of A Population Crisis Are Wrong
The Observer, 27 January 2019 
4) Persistently Incorrect Population Worries
The Interim, November 2018
5) Dominic Lawson: The High Priests Of The Green Lobby
Daily Mail, 4 February 2019 
6) Free Speech On Campus Begins With The Academics
Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, 1 February 2019 
7) Bob Ward, LSE and Booker
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 3 February 2019 

Full details:

1) Empty Planet: The Shock Of Global Population Decline
David Goodhart, The Sunday Times, 3 February 2019 

Market economics failed to topple Chinese communism, but perhaps the halving of its population by the end of the century will do the trick instead. Meanwhile the oceans are set to heal, the temperature will cool and Canada will become a global superpower.

All because of the next big thing, spelt out in this book: a sharply declining global population. This is a popular guide to modern demography, by two Canadian journalists, with a very strong point of view about the direction of travel. It is full of fascinating speculation and written with an energy that degenerates only occasionally into jauntiness.

Desolation row: the district of Kangbashi, in the Chinese city of Ordos, made headlines in 2010 as the poster city for the country’s waning population growth BLOOMBERG

It is also a case study in what one might call the “Canadian ideology”, the world view of the globe’s first “post-national” country, which is set to come into its own in the individualistic world of the low population, immigration-favouring future that the authors view as largely benign but many others might find less to their taste.

The basic claim that global population, now 7.5bn, will decline rapidly later this century after peaking at below 9bn — rather than the 11bn that is the UN’s central forecast — is hardly as new or controversial as the authors imply. More than 20 years ago I commissioned a cover story for Prospect magazine by Nicholas Eberstadt titled “Too few people?” that predicted global population peaking in 2040 and then starting a headlong dive. Fred Pearce made a similar argument nearly a decade ago in a book called Peoplequake.

But wielding a mix of data, argument and reportage, the authors do a decent job of explaining why this is probably going to happen. It can be summed up in one sentence. As societies urbanise, women become better educated (including about contraception) and more financially autonomous thanks to working outside the home, and this causes fertility rates to plummet, which is reinforced in most places by the weakening ties of family, clan and organised religion. […]

China is becoming Japan thanks to the one-child policy introduced in 1979 when the fertility rate was already down to 2.5. The rate is now just 1.2 and China’s population could halve to 600m by the end of the century, which would mean it was not far above the United States, which is likely to continue growing because of immigration.

Africa is the key continent for the decline thesis. The authors paint an optimistic picture from Kenya (where fertility has halved to 4 since 1975) of rising female education and empowerment. They also talk about growth prospects opened up by the Trans-West African Coastal Highway linking Lagos to Accra and Abidjan in Ivory Coast. This could be over-optimistic and Nigeria still has a fertility rate of 6 despite rapid urbanisation.

They might also underestimate the extent of the “goldilocks” option, of coming to rest at replacement levels, as Sri Lanka has been for the past 25 years and maybe India could be in the future. An Ipsos poll of almost 20,000 people in 26 countries found the ideal family size to be just over two.

In the short term, the authors imply, a faster than expected decline in population is mainly a benefit. Pressure on the environment is relieved, older populations are more pacific (although the 30m Chinese men without women might turn rough).

And one thing they don’t mention is how economic power is likely to swing back from capital to labour as the latter becomes scarce. This in turn is likely to reduce inequality; after all, one reason for inequality rising was the flooding of the labour market with all those cheap workers in India and China.

Full post

2) The Price Of Bias: Nearly One Million Britons Cancel BBC TV Licence
Daily Mail, 2 February 2019

Nearly a million Britons cancelled their TV licence last year as viewers ditch BBC in favour of streaming services

More than 860,000 TV licenses were cancelled in 2017-18, compared to 798,000 in 2016-17.

The figures amount to 2,300 cancellations a day.

The BBC has confirmed the TV license’s price will increase to £154.50 starting from April, 1

Television licenses are compulsory to watch live television or use the BBC’s iPlayer service.

The charge applies whether the show is being watched on a TV set, computer, tablet or any other equipment.

In March last year, 25.8 million licenses were held.

It is now believed that the ‘Netflix effect’ is leading viewers to abandon their BBC TV licenses entirely.

Streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV do not require any license.

Full story

3) What Goes Up: Why Predictions Of A Population Crisis Are Wrong
The Observer, 27 January 2019 
Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson

Changing fertility rates challenge dystopian visions and UN projections about the future of our overcrowded planet

She is a well-educated, professional woman, working in an office tower in central Nairobi, Kenya. Because of her status and education, the price required to marry her is bound to be high. Although dowries are often now paid in cash, she expects hers will be paid in the traditional method of cows and goats, and that the wedding will take place in the village she came from.

“I’m a traditional girl,” she explains.

It could take a long time for any suitor to accumulate the capital needed to pay – or at least down-pay – her dowry. She’s fine with that.

 “We [women] are getting married later,” one of her colleagues explains. “We want an education, job security, and a nice place to live… This also means that we can’t have as many kids, even if we want them.”

These remarks offer a window on one of the most compelling questions of our time: how many people will fill the Earth? The United Nations Population Division projects that numbers will swell to more than 11 billion by the end of this century, almost 4 billion more than are alive today. Where will they live? How will we feed them? How many more of us can our fragile planet withstand?

But a growing body of opinion believes the UN is wrong. We will not reach 11 billion by 2100. Instead, the human population will top out at somewhere between 8 and 9 billion around the middle of the century, and then begin to decline.

Jørgen Randers, a Norwegian academic who decades ago warned of a potential global catastrophe caused by overpopulation, has changed his mind. “The world population will never reach nine billion people,” he now believes. “It will peak at 8 billion in 2040, and then decline.”

Similarly, Prof Wolfgang Lutz and his fellow demographers at Vienna’s International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis predict the human population will stabilise by mid-century and then start to go down.

A Deutsche Bank report has the planetary population peaking at 8.7 billion in 2055 and then declining to 8 billion by century’s end.

The UN discounts the claims of these experts, relying on the authority of experience. “We imagine that countries that currently have higher levels of fertility and lower levels of life expectancy will make progress in the future in a similar manner, at a similar speed, to what was experienced by countries in the past,” John Wilmoth, director of the UN Population Division, says. “It’s all grounded in past experience.”

But the dissident demographers think this is wrong, primarily because the UN is failing to account for an accelerating decline in fertility as a result of urbanisation. In 2007, for the first time in human history, the majority of people in the world lived in cities. Today, it’s 55%. In three decades, it will be two-thirds. […]

From Malthusian predictions at global conferences to the latest dystopian offering from Hollywood, pessimists predict a future of overcrowding, scarcity, conflict and possible collapse. But the premise is probably false. We need to prepare, not for the consequences of a population boom, but a population bust. A child born this decade will probably reach middle age in a world where population growth has stalled, and may already have begun to shrink.

There could be much about this world to admire. It may be cleaner, safer, quieter. Urbanisation produces a marked decrease in carbon emissions per person – people using public transport, for example, rather than travelling by car – and as people move to the city, marginal farmland reverts to bush, a natural carbon sink and a boon to wildlife.

Economically, however, things could be more challenging, as societies struggle to grow with fewer young workers and taxpayers. Automation will help, but robots don’t buy refrigerators or a smart dress for the office party. Consumption remains the bedrock of any economy.

Population decline is not a good thing or a bad thing. But it is a big thing. It’s time to look it in the eye.

Full post

4) Persistently Incorrect Population Worries
The Interim, November 2018
Paul Tuns


Population Bombed: Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Changeby Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak (Global Warming Policy Foundation, $12, $5.94 Kindle, 259 pages)

Worries about over-population are a seeming constant in debates of world issues, returning regularly to stoke fear about the rising number of people inhabiting the planet. Earlier this year, Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 book The Population Bomb, told The Guardian that despite the fact that all his apocalyptic predictions failing to materialize, he was nonetheless correct in most of his details except the timing. Never mind that this is untrue – most of his underlying argument has also proved false – he remains a popular doomsayer.

In recent years, fatalistic predictions of a growing population’s impact on so-called climate change have been added to worries about over-population’s role in resource depletion, famine, or whatever fashionable concerns exist at any given time.

There have been plenty of books undermining or disproving Ehrlich’s thesis that over-population will lead to mass starvation because the planet cannot possibly provide for the growing number of mouths to feed. We reviewed several of them earlier this year: Gregg Easterbrook’s It’s Better than It Looks, Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now, Hans Rosling’s Factfulness (“Paul Erhlich is still wrong,” May).

Add to the library of optimism, Population Bombed: Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change by Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak. Many of Ehrlich’s critics think he was among the first population pessimists. Those with a longer view of history go back to Thomas Malthus at the end of the 18th century.

Desrochers and Szurmak summarize the long history of population pessimism. In the chapter “Conflicting perspectives on population growth, resources, and the environment,” the authors note “there have long been two main perspectives on the relationship between humans and nature” with one side arguing “that we can and should reshape the natural world for our own benefit,” while the other believes “humanity should live within natural limits and that failing to do so will result in considerable harm.”

This is as succinct a summation of the debate between those who believe human beings are exceptional and those who believe the Earth’s well-being should be prioritized over people’s. Or as the authors summarize pro-fossil fuel author Alex Epstein’s question for readers: “whether our goal should be to maximize human flourishing or to minimize human impacts.”

The chapter on the conflicting perspectives is thorough without getting bogged down in details. The authors point out that regardless of the labels (which are important because they “distil key truths about the key ideas” of their movements), the conflict between the pessimists, survivalists, doomsayers on the one side, and optimists, cornucopians, Prometheans, or doomslayers on the other, is as old as civilization.

The Babylonian Atrahasis epic depicted plagues and famines as a solution to the supposed overcrowded earth four millennia ago. In the 5th century B.C., Confucius argued that population growth would lead to lower living standards. In ancient Greece, both Plato and Aristotle raised concerns about the ability to sustain the consumption desires of a growing population. In the second century A.D., Carthaginian Christian philosopher Tertullian worried about the “teeming population” that was becoming unsustainably “burdensome to the world.” St. Jerome wrote in the fourth century that “the population is too large for the soil.”

Full post

5) Dominic Lawson: The High Priests Of The Green Lobby
Daily Mail, 4 February 2019 

Oh look, another member of the great and the good is in the soup. And, not for the first time, it’s one of those who preaches to us about our duty to ‘save the planet’.

Yesterday, the Mail on Sunday revealed that a private company owned by Lord Deben (who, as John Selwyn Gummer, was Environment Secretary under John Major) had received more than £600,000 in undeclared payments from businesses which come under the purview of the Government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC), which he chairs.

The most significant payment came from the firm Johnson Matthey, which makes batteries for electric cars.

It paid Gummer’s company, Sancroft, almost £300,000 over five years — before he urged the Government to speed up plans to make all new cars on British roads battery-powered.

All MPs and Peers are required to declare any outside earnings and interests in order that the public (and fellow legislators) can determine if there is any conflict of interest.

Gummer declared his chairmanship of Sancroft, but apparently not these payments — including one from so-called ‘green energy’ producer Drax, which paid Sancroft £15,500 while Gummer’s committee was writing a report about its activities.


Gummer’s solicitor insists that ‘allegations of conflicts of interest and other improprieties are wholly false … [he] has at all times made disclosures in accordance with the advice he has been given by the House of Lords and the CCC’.

In which case, one wonders at the advice he receives.

There does seem to have been an unfortunate series of incidents involving legislators most associated with preaching the green gospel.

A few years ago, Gummer’s Tory colleague Tim Yeo, as chairman of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, was caught out by Sunday Times reporters posing as representatives of a solar energy company pushing for new laws to help their business.

Yeo appeared to gobble at the chance to act as their paid advocate. After the Sunday Times published, Yeo sued.

But the judge in the case, Mr Justice Warby, said the story was ‘substantially true’, and that parts of Yeo’s evidence were, variously, ‘unreliable and untruthful’, like ‘a fish wriggling on a hook’ and ‘unworthy of belief’.

This was, at least, nothing like as bad as the dishonesty of the former Energy and Climate Change secretary of state Chris Huhne. The Liberal Democrat was the most influential advocate of carbon emission reduction in the Conservative-led Coalition of 2010-2015.

Perhaps it was because he didn’t think getting a speeding ticket would sit well with those credentials that Huhne fraudulently got his then wife, Vicky Pryce, to say that she had been driving the family car at excessive speeds (when it was, in fact, Huhne behind the wheel).

Even after his wife told a journalist of the deception, Huhne continued to lie repeatedly, looking straight at the lens of the TV companies’ cameras to declare he was ‘innocent of these charges and I intend to fight this in the courts, and I’m confident that a jury will agree’.

Not that confident, it turned out. At the last moment, when he realised the game was up, he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Still, after seven weeks served at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in 2012, Huhne immediately found a remunerative refuge on the board of a ‘green energy’ company: he is European chairman of Zilkha Biomass Energy.

Full post

see also coverage in the TimesGaia Fawkes,  Energy Live NewsBreitbart and the BBC (not) ....

6) Free Speech On Campus Begins With The Academics
Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, 1 February 2019 

The Government is absolutely right to introduce uniform guidance on free speech in universities, but it shouldn’t even be necessary. Why can’t academics, who are supposedly motivated by the spirit of free inquiry, define and defend liberty themselves? Instead, students have been allowed to set the rules and, through no-platforming, noisy protest and “safe space” policies, make it difficult to engage in dialogue.

One issue, which the Government is addressing, is complicated guidance that critics say is open to exploitation. But the problem extends to the culture of the academy itself. Since the Sixties, the Left has taken over, imposing a consensus so deadening that a group of thinkers recently launched a journal of “controversial ideas” that offered to publish essays, if so desired, under pseudonyms. Groupthink and timidity are matched by entitlement, reflected in the Cambridge don who railed against college porters because they failed to call her “doctor”. She inferred racism.

MPs must see that what’s taking place on campus is a microcosm of the wider society that politicians have had a hand in building. The ever-expanding definition of “hate crime” has turned nobodies into witchfinders, while many Britons feel they cannot say things for fear of being shouted down. No one approves of speech that is denigrating, bigoted or incites violence. But there has to be freedom to contest ideas within the constraints of the law – and that contest not only should exist on campus but also ought to be actively encouraged by authoritative university officials. Heaven knows they are paid enough.

7) Bob Ward, LSE and Booker
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 3 February 2019 
Paul Homewood

Booker has a bit on the Bob Ward saga today, which should see the latter blow a few fuses!

It has always seemed rather odd that two of London’s most prestigious universities, Imperial College and the LSE, should include a “Grantham Institute”, lavishly funded by an asset management billionaire to promote research supporting the belief in global warming.

An employee of the LSE branch is Bob Ward, much of whose job seems to consist of lodging long and tortuous complaints against any journalist daring to point out factual errors in claims made by warming propagandists. I have lost count of how many such complaints Ward has made against me over the years, most recently under the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). But not one has ever been upheld.

So enraged was Ward by IPSO’s rejection of his latest complaint against me that he last week published a long rant on the LSE website, accusing me of “endangering lives” by producing scientific data to show why last summer’s heatwave was not proof of global warming, and attacking IPSO for allowing the press to “promote climate change denial”.

He seemed to be calling for a restriction on the freedom of the press. But isn’t it odd that the LSE should be lending its prestige to such intemperate stuff?

Unfortunately the following sentence was edited out :

Under the official system now run by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), a serious occupational hazard for the few of us who do this is having to spend days or even weeks (unpaid), answering  these complaints in minute detail

As I mentioned in my post last week, I believe the real purpose of Ward’s frequent complaints is to create so much work and hassle, both for authors like Booker and his editorial colleagues, that newspapers will eventually be discouraged from writing articles questioning warming orthodoxy.

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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