We have a population policy, does anyone else?

Our population policy has been released at last. Having been involved with its development through the complicated Green policy-making process, I’m pretty proud of it.

The best thing about it, I think, is that it comes from an ecological footprint perspective, and it makes very clear that the most immediate threat to our planet is consumption in the “developed” world, rather than conception in the “under-developed” world. This isn’t to say that we don’t have to worry hugely about how many people there are and will be in the world, especially as regards food production and distribution, but from the point of view of climate change, almost all of that threatening carbon is being emitted either by, or for, us, the privileged.

Other things I really like about the policy – we have recognised the research that shows that education and choices for women are the key to a replacement or below replacement birthrate, and also that parents and would-be parents are the best people to make decisions about how many children they will have. Somehow, according to TV3 News, National has equated that to a China “one child” policy, but I really don’t know how. I look forward to reading their press release.

I like too that we are looking far enough ahead to recognize that there might be quite a few kiwis heading for home as times and climates get tougher, and that we need to save space for them, but also for wilderness, mountains, clean rivers and unpolluted oceans.

I’m sure there will be plenty of people from other parties that have put a population policy in the “too hard” basket, who will find plenty of nits to pick, but I challenge them to read the policy themselves, then come up with a better and more respectful one.

17 thoughts on “We have a population policy, does anyone else?

  1. OK, the 3 News story is online now at http://www.3news.co.nz/Green-Party-suggests-think-twice-about-having-babies-for-sustainable-future/tabid/419/articleID/76238/Default.aspx?ArticleID=76238 – it is worse than the news broadcast, because they have (deliberately?) left out the four most important words of the policy out – “by the parents concerned”. At least the policy was correctly quoted in the news item.

    “Ensure that potential and existing parents have full and free access to countrywide Family Planning services so that informed decisions about the number and spacing of children can be made at the appropriate level, by the parents concerned.”

    (Updated at 3:30: This story has now been removed from the TV3 news page. The link I followed through my history turned up a blank page. So perhaps they had a twinge of conscience, after all)

  2. Congratulations on a very sound population policy. Promoting the ecological footprint as the overarching consideration in determing our maximum population is environmentally sensible albeit politically brave. I am also impressed by how provision has been for possible returning ex patriots and environmental refugees – especially from the South Pacific.
    I feel that at last we have a constructive way of planning for future ‘development’ – provided, of course, that the immigration policy adheres to the principles outlined in the population policy.
    The cautionary note that I would add, however, is to question the validity of the oft-cited demographic assumption that human populations stabilise upon reaching a certain standard of living. On this count I make two observations: (1) This does not seem to have been the case for the USA and (2) Green Party feeling is that we should lower our (materialistic) standard of living. Hence, we are very likely to be in uncharted waters on natural population growth in such a scenario.
    But, a great effort. The foundations of a comprehensive population policy have been well and truly laid! (No pun intended!).

  3. Point 15.1 of the Immigration policy at http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/immigration

    Ensure that the setting of immigration levels would be reviewed on a regular basis and be based on:
    a) net population change;
    b) the need to have spare environmental, social and cultural ecological capacity to accommodate potential returning New Zealanders and spontaneous climate change refugees;
    c) an assessment of the capacity of systems in place (INZ, refugee-assistance agencies) to cope with immigration fairly and effectively;
    d) the ability to decentralise our economic system to encourage settlement outside urban areas under infrastructure and population capacity stress;
    e)an assessment of the ability of our environment to cope with population increases, taking into account changes in energy use and other behavioural and infrastructural factors; and
    f) New Zealand’s humanitarian obligations with regard to refugees

    I don’t think it is so much standard of living that stabilizes the population, as the standard of living, choices and educational opportunities of women and girls. I only have an outside view of the US, so not sure how much that issue would affect things there.

    But “uncharted waters” is a good metaphor.

  4. Wow. Just wow.

    I actually didn’t think the Greens could come out with anything that would make me like them even less this election cycle, but “we should treat the figure of 5.7 million with caution and as an indicative upper limit figure only”. Holy shit, you guys are fucked up.

    I’ve never been happier that I’m not one of those anarchists that secretly (or not so secretly, see http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2008/10/the-greens-and.html) votes for the Greens….

  5. Please explain further Asher, I’m not sure I follow your logic.

    And perhaps if you can’t bring yourself to vote Green for yourself, you could do it for the snails in Happy Valley!

  6. So you freaky eugenicists have finally shown your true colours…. SHAME ON THE GREENS

    You are misleading our public with your top 2 issues and you should immediately disband the party. Peak oil and global warming are UNPROVEN THEORIES. You are not scientists – you are politicians and dangerous ones at that.

    Every single green party member should take a good long look in the mirror and say these following words:
    “I am a retard”

    You suck greens you suck so hard I’ll be campaigning against you turkeys when ever the opportunity arises.


  7. Dan, abuse does not convince people of your arguments, not that you have actually provided any arguments here.

    Why don’t you go (back) to Kiwiblog where mindless comments like this are par for the course, instead of spoiling the discussion here with unsubstantiated denialist rubbish.

  8. When I saw the item on 3 news reporting on the launch of the Greens population and immigration policies I was shocked. As reported by TV3 the Greens position on immigration and population control are very much “extreme-fringe” thought, i.e. going against the hard work of many people to counter the marginalisation of the Greens and give them mainstream credibility; AKA political suicide.

    Before summoning an angry mob to demand someone’s head on a stick I checked the policy online.

    I am now shocked at how TV3 is misreporting and spinning this story to portray the Greens to marginalise them as an “extreme-fringe”. Numerous examples in this piece include:

    1. There is no mention of a “population cap”; The Green Party “recognises that a sustainable population level for New Zealand would not be “final and fixed” but flexible.”

    Reported as: “But the party’s population policy was attached to it too and it warns the world’s population is growing too fast and New Zealand’s population should be capped at a maximum of 5.7 million.”

    2.There is no mention in the Greens policy of any mechanism to restrict or limit how many children couples have, the Greens policy only states: “Ensure that potential and existing parents have full and free access to countrywide Family Planning services so that informed decisions about the number and spacing of children can be made at the appropriate level, by the parents concerned”

    Reported by TV3 as: “The Greens want to limit the number of people living in New Zealand to 5.7 million”, and directly quoting Hamish Campbell “a policy limiting the number of children.”

    3. The figure 5.7million has been plucked out of context, it is “an indicative upper limit figure only” to be treated “with caution”, of the “maximum population that NZ can sustain”.

    Reported as above: “should be capped at a maximum of 5.7 million.”

    4. The Greens immigration policy is about increasing NZ’s refugee quota from 750 to 1000 per year to allow for climate-change immigrants/refugees primarily from the pacific, and that we should retain capacity for returning kiwis.

    TV3 reported: “They are suggesting Kiwis should think twice about having children of their own but keep the door open to immigrants and refugees.”

    Nasty biased attack by TV3, perhaps someone pulling their strings feels threatened by the Greens.

    Access policies through the summaries: http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/summary/immigration

  9. As I said in my prevoius comment, the policy is politically (or maybe just, ‘plain’) brave. Hence I am not surprised at the negative response. However , the policy is consistent with all the other environmental and even social policies of the Greens. It faces up to the two geatest problems for this planet’s overall wellbeing: namely too many people consuming too much.
    I guess many believe that this country is underpopulated – whatever that means. The reality is we are close to carrying capacity whereas, frighteningly, most of the rest of the world is (sometimes) grossly overpopulated especially if it were to enjoy anything like our standard of living.

  10. Large third world populations are being decimated by local warfare.while there is a steady flow of refugees and illegal immigrants into affluent countries. Deserts are spreading here and there, forests are being illegally felled at an alarming pace, huge recources are being spent on USA’s attempts to retain access to the remnants of large oil-fields, so to deny that Global warming is proceeding apace, could well be suicidal. Sure: we of our generation will get by in comparative comfort, I hope, but what are our grandchildren going to think of us when the world’s climatic extremes have become increasingly destructive, and natural resources much more depleted? Perhaps Greens are being unduely alarmist, but it is surely preferable to just hoping that there is nothing going wrong, so keeping up the open slather– she’ll be right! Population increase requires essentially a moderate standard of living to enable its curtailment, by more and better education etc. Continuing wars and restrictive trade practices deprives us of resources to enable elevation of living standards where badly needed.

  11. Compassion for others and a genuine interest in Social Justice have always been cornerstones of Green policy development.

    TV3 have misrepresented this policy unfairly, but then media bias is old news, especially in mainstream media.

    The full policy is not about exclusion, or limitation, or eugenicist thinking!

    After 5 years of supporting Ahmed Zauoi, I don’t think green credentials for social justice are tied to any particular ethnicity, creed or nationality; as Green opposition to the TSA, in all it’s varied amendments and drafts along the way, would have pre-figured, if you’d thought about it carefully….

  12. toad, I did present arguments. Namely that the Greens should be ashamed of themselves for introducing eugenics-based policies. Population limitation is eugenics. Period.

    Also I presented to fact that “peak oil” and “climate change” are UNPROVEN THEORIES.

    The green movement has really turned a corner in the past 2 years and in my opinion you are anti-human if you follow these kinds of ideas.

    Carbon is plant food and history has shown that life on earth thrives in a CO2-rich environment.

    The greens in this country are so under-educated that they think they are saving the planet by scaring people into believing the unproven theories like peak oil, or that “climate change” is a danger to life on earth.


  13. Dan . Please don’t parade your simplistic and emotive notion of eugenics. Yes, eugenics as reportedly practised by the Nazis is totally unacceptable and in any case against the tenets of biodiversity.
    The more general idea, namely, that it is some form of (albeit socially beneficial) intervention into human reproduction, is still not in line with the Green Party’s population policy as far as I can asertain.
    There is problem with labelling the Greens in particular,and the environmental movement in general, as ‘anti-human’. For surely humans are part of the environment? And isn;t this the problem?: namely that we need to factor in all the non-human portion of the environment in our analysis as well as the human. This is the plea of eco-economics to the classical economists, for example.

  14. Dan (not a eugenicist )

    I quote “The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary” 1993 (the big fat two volume version):
    “eugenics: The science of dealing with factors that influence the heredity qualities of a race esp. by modifying characteristics of fertility of different characteristics of people.”

    Nazi Party 1930s- 40s: YES
    Green Party of Aotearoa NZ 2008: NO

    PLEASE spend a little more time actually reading what is written before commenting.

  15. I will post a proper reply to the replies to me, sorry I haven’t done yet but have barely been home since my initial response to this (my thoughts haven’t changed, incidentally). Will try to do this tomorrow 🙂

  16. No rush, Asher …
    Maybe after tonite? I would discuss this with you if you’re amenable 😉

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