First things first


Friday, 2 April 2010

April Progress Report

Transition Westcombe and Transition Ashburnham Joint Meeting


Voluntarily stabilizing and reducing
population and consumption in the U.K.

Wednesday May 19th 2010, 7.30pm
Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3 7SE

This Greenwich meeting of residents as well as local faith and non-faith groups will be exploring acceptable ways of voluntarily stabilizing and reducing population and consumption, in small table discussions. Komathi Kolandai has researched the viewpoints of the major religions, which all advocate simpler lifestyles without excessive consumption, and also all stress the quality of family life rather than the quantity of children. For his full text, go to:

In the Global Footprint Network’s 2003 report scientists stated that the global human ecological footprint exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth by some 25%, and that this figure was rising by 8% per year. The ecological footprint is calculated by multiplying the human population of each country by their annual per capita consumption. The key factors behind the need to voluntarily reduce population and consumption in the UK and worldwide are climate change, loss of biodiversity and the global environmental crisis of the oceans, soils and water tables, as a result of human energy and resource requirements.

Consumption reduction. In the U.K. it has been estimated that we could reduce our consumption by 30% by putting in place energy saving measures and living more simply. This could be achieved through resource conservation, needs-based consumption, waste reduction and by using alternative resources. But even if we achieve that target then we would still need to reduce our population in order to get closer to the U.K.’s ecological carrying capacity.

Population reduction. The Optimum Population Trust recommends that the U.K. population of 61 million should be allowed to voluntarily stabilise and decrease by not less than 0.25% a year to an environmentally sustainable level. It could do this by bringing immigration into numerical balance with emigration, by making greater efforts to reduce teenage pregnancies, and by encouraging couples to "Stop at Two" children.

Population issues are often seen in terms of human rights, and some may still feel the right to have more than 2 children is an absolute freedom. But the United Nations General Assembly has recently adopted a Bolivian resolution for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, which will set human rights against human responsibilities not to destroy earth’s ecology and climate for many other species, as well as for future generations of humans. With the acceptance of earth rights, legal systems could take account of the rights of the natural world – for example, mountains, forests, oceans, rivers and animals. The Declaration could follow the same course as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was not legally binding when first proclaimed but seven decades later, the UDHR has been incorporated into the laws of many countries, and is the basis for the International Criminal Court.

Despite well-publicized media coverage of some mistakes, the scientific community is still convinced of the fundamental accuracy of the conclusions of the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change which reported 95% certainty of human-caused climate change. The U.K.’s Royal Society supported this view by publishing ‘Preventing dangerous climate change’ in 2009, which underlined the need for us to start making changes now to avoid the worst future scenarios. There is still no internationally binding agreement on climate change, which makes it more important, as a nation, to start voluntarily stabilizing and reducing our population and consumption from their current levels towards a U.K. sized ecological footprint.


Patch Match, our free garden-sharing service, has a number of enthusiastic gardeners looking for a space to grow vegetables. Do you or someone you know have a large garden or some other space you cannot fully use but which you would be glad to see cultivated for zero-miles food, in return for a share of the harvest?

Transition Westcombe have got the backing of our MP Nick Raynsford for Barbara Morris’ ‘Greener Streets’ proposal. We have also presented it to committee members of the Westcombe Society, and they will be at a future exploratory meeting with the relevant Council officers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Might be a bit too far for you but i know at abbey wood,elstree gardens there is a small plot that is run by bexley council. It is overgrown with brambles and hasn`t been used for years but it has got water taps fitted. You might be able to convince bexley to let you have it if you agree to clear it and its not far from the station.