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One Planet Living

Dear WWF International,

October 31st notionally marked the arrival of the 7 billionth human being on our planet, give or take a few million or so.
With a net increase of about 1.5 million human beings every week, accuracy doesn't really matter very much!
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) publishes a biannual Living Planet Report.
See http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/abou...

This says that since 1966 the global rate of consumption of our planet's natural resources has doubled from 3/4 of our planet's capacity to nearly 1.5 planets now.
Over the same period, the population has doubled from around 3.5 billion to around 7 billion now .
The last time the global population was consuming natural resources at the sustainable rate of 1 planet was in 1982, when the population was around 4.5 billion!
It is an indisputable fact that any increase in the population in any country in the world will lead to an increase in the consumption of the earth's finite resources
It is an indisputable fact that any economic growth in any country in the world will lead to an increase in the consumption of the earth's finite resources.
So, even without any more economic growth in any country in the world; if the population increases from around 7 billion to the 9 billion or so that is projected by the UN for 2050, simple arithmetic shows that a population of 9 billion will need nearly two planets to sustain it at the same level of resource consumption as now.
Quite clearly, we humans are rapidly running out of planet to consume!
If we allow the population to increase any further and/or strive for any more economic growth anywhere in the world, we will run out of this planet all the sooner!

Ipso facto, we humans must reach an international agreement to introduce globally acceptable policies that will reduce the global population and the consumption of our planet's remaining natural resources down to a sustainable level ASAP.
Please consider very carefully this inconvenient truth.
Surely this is the only possible peaceful solution that will enable us to achieve One Planet Living or Sustainability for the whole Human Race on planet Earth?
All the other possible alternative "solutions" to this immense Overpopulation and Overconsumption problem simply do not bear thinking about!

For the sake of my Grandchildren, aged nearly 5 years and nearly 1 year , and the millions of other young children all over the world, may I please be so bold as to ask
What are WWF going to do about this completely unsustainable situation that we are all in?

Yours sincerely,
Bill Dowling
45 Longdown Road
Sandhurst
Berkshire
GU47 8QG
United Kingdom
Tel.01344 772130
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  • Dear Bill
    The main focus of WWF's work is on the reducing humanity's ecological footprint. That is the reason that we publish the Living Planet report. It is our way of providing feedback (or a report card) to all who will listen about the level of unsustainability that we all contribute to. Feedback is one important step in change.

    The concept of "one planet living" comes from the idea that if we all lived as Europeans or North Americans we would need 3-5 of our planets to survive. WWF promotes and develops ideas around successfully living within the means of the one planet we do have.
    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_w...
    With your grandchild now 5, even schools have a role
    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_w...

    Our expertise lies in working with individuals, communities, organisations, businesses and governments to reduce consumption or to choose more sustainable options. We create partnerships that aims to increase sustainability across all sectors of humanity
    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_w...
    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footp...

    We apply expertise and knowledge to create solutions and programs
    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_w...

    We advocate on behalf of the environment
    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_w...

    We protect wild spaces so that we can nurture Earth's nurseries
    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_w...

    But most of all we rely on engaged, thinking and caring people to make the small, consistent changes and choices that will help us live within our planet's means.
    http://wwf.panda.org/how_you_can_help/

    Thanks for your letter Bill and thanks for being caring and engaged enough to write.
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  • I’m Frustrated!
    1
    Dear Jackie,

    Thank-you for what may seem to you to be a comprehensive and helpful reply.

    However, it does not satisfy me because you have not mentioned anywhere the need for us humans to reduce our population growth as well as our consumption (or ecological footprint if you prefer!)

    Why?

    Why do WWF persist in avoiding addressing this equally important aspect of this immense problem head on?

    It still seems to me that WWF are doing a grave disservice to the very wildlife flora and fauna it claims to protect, simply to ease the consciences of us humans!

    Whose side are WWF really on?

    How can WWF possibly persist in doing this when quite obviously -

    The Total Ecological footprint of humanity = No of humans x average per capita ecological footprint.

    On a finite planet this is clearly not sustainable with an ever increasing population unless the per capita consumption goes down in direct proportion with the growth in the population, and as WWF have pointed out - 7 billion of us humans are already over-consuming resources at the rate of 1.5 planets!

    I have made this point several times to WWF before, and I will do it again here -

    if any other species was over running our planet like we humans are, and consuming everything in their path as fast as we are and was responsible for all the destruction of habitat, species flora an d fauna that we humans are - WWF would have done something about it years ago!

    Please Jackie , will you try at least try to persuade WWF as an organisation to start telling its supporters and all the other people out there the whole truth and nothing but the truth about their responsibilities for both the collective and their individual ecological footprints?

    I still like, support and admire most of what WWF have been doing and are doing, otherwise I wouldn't have been a monthly donor for so long.

    BUT, the wildlife flora and fauna cant make this plea, so I am doing it for them.

    For their sakes, WWF really must open this "population can of worms"!

    Who's side are WWF really on?

    Best regards, yours sincerely,

    Bill
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  • 1
    Dear Jackie,

    I must say I agree with Bill Dowling on this.

    For most of the twentieth century the world population was doubling every forty years, ie exponentially. Admittedly this is slowing, and the last billion has taken the same time as the previous one, ie about 12 years. However this is like saying that the car we are in has stopped accelerating as it approaches that brick wall, and is now maintaining a steady 100 mph. This is hardly reassuring.

    How likely is it that we could acheive a 50% reduction of world consumption in the same length of time that population doubles? I would say practically nil, especially as we hope that the world's poorest can be brought out of extreme poverty, which will necessarily and rightly increase their own consumption. Can you, hand on heart,say otherwise?

    We who are concerned about population are well aware that consumption amongst the richer parts of the world is destructive of the natural world. Population is not the whole solution of our present problems but it is a necessary and too often ignored part of that solution.

    Perhaps you fear an adverse public response if you took population on board. But a YouGov survey carried out on behalf of Optimum Population Trust (now Population Matters) showed that seventy percent thought that world population is too high, causing serious environmental problems.

    According to UN Population Fund, something like 210 million women who would use family planning are denied access to it, and something over 40% of all pregnancies are unintentional. This represents a huge amount of human suffering, and it also shows how much can be done to tackle population without any coercion, given the funds.

    Bill and I and others like us do not expect WWF to drop everything else to concentrate on human population, but the very least you can do is to recognise that population is part of the problem, and not try to hide it. We are, after all, on the same side, and we should not have to argue like this.

    Yours sincerely,

    Roger Plenty
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  • If the planet were a membership organisation it would state that it was full and accept no members. It might accept other fauna and flora to balance out it's diversity but would decline humans! Shouldn't WWF really advocate for the world wildlife from which it derives it's name?
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  • Hi again
    Bill - apologies I merged your other letter into an incorrect place and cannot undo this action. However, I intended to merge it into this discussion anyway.

    Thanks Roger and Richard for joining in:

    Thank you for your support generally and if I understand correctly there are two parts to your query:
    1) Reducing consumption
    2) Human population growth

    I believe that WWF does address part 1) very well and is the basis for my first response. There is no doubt that this is the focus of our work and has been for many years. It is an area where we have considerable expertise. However, I will ask our sustainability team if they have anything to add regarding your comment; "How likely is it that we could acheive a 50% reduction of world consumption in the same length of time that population doubles?"

    Clearly though, it is the second part of your query that you are most interested in. Balancing the needs of people (including our incredible success at reproduction) and the needs of the rest of nature is complex - there are no simple answers. The following web page is most relevant to this discussion:
    http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_w...

    There is a comprehensive 4 part report that can be downloaded from the above web page that looks at these issues and WWF's work in these area. In part one, there is an introduction to the ideaologies and paths that WWF follows that I have copied below and I hope helps clarify WWF's position but I encourage you to read all the documents in full.

    "It is clear that the relationship between population dynamics and the environment is neither uniform nor simple. Where natural population growth is the identified pressure, then family planning, information sharing, and education will be required. Where
    migration, driven by poverty, conflict, or a failure of governance systems is the critical pressure, a range of policy and planning interventions may be needed. And where changing patterns of land use are being driven by the shifting consumption patterns of urban populations, new business-environment partnerships and education programs should be pursued.

    WWF believes that with increasing human population pressures from growth, migration, and consumption there is a renewed sense of urgency in combating biodiversity
    loss. As a result, and focused on the Global 200, WWF has redefined its population efforts to be part of our daily business in conservation education and communication
    programs as well as in its global work on threats and resources. Through partnerships designed to help slow population growth by increasing people’s access to reproductive health care, by improving girls’ educational opportunities to reduce inequity and improve standards of living for families, or through wise land and resource planning schemes that reduce land conversion for urban sprawl, WWF is committed to delivering appropriate and comprehensive responses to address population and environment challenges."

    I will also ask our sustainability team to comment further.
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  • Jackie, I note a confusion in my last. I wrote 'How likely is it that we could acheive a 50% reduction of world consumption in the same length of time that population doubles?' I meant, of course, 'How likely is it that we could achieve a 50% reduction of per capita consumption....', the point being that if the average per capita consumption reduced by 50% in the same time that population doubled, total consumption would remain the same.

    Regards, Roger
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  • Having read you last 'post' Jackie and the link I am very much heartened as to WWFs position on the growth of the human population, thanks very much I will try and keep abreast of that. (I did the survey) , Richard
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