The Earthshot Prize

David Attenborough and Prince William have just announced the Earthshot Prizes of £1 million each, five times a year.  Who should get them? The prizes are for solutions to the current global ecological crisis.  The ecological crisis is the disappearance of uninhabited and natural land, the huge decrease in wildlife numbers, the pollution of the environment and climate change. It is neatly summarised in this graphic:

Data source: Smil 2011

  What has caused this effect of humanity?  It is population growth:

Population Matters

Humans have reduced the global biomass of all wild land mammals to 15% of its pre-human level.   Sea mammals have been reduced to 20% of the pre-human level.  Humans have removed 50% of global fishery stocks.

Source: Smil (2011)

This loss of wild life is far worse than Climate Change at the moment but if Climate Change continues unabated it will get worse.

 Climate change is mostly due to population growth:

 Indeed CO2 emissions per person stabilised between 1970 and 2002.  It was purely population growth that was pushing up CO2 until China, India and much of the world became developed after 2000 and increased emissions per head by a further 20%:

What can we do to reverse this crisis?  The crisis is caused by population growth and a development model promulgated by the World Bank, IMF, WTO etc. that is energy intensive and encourages population growth.  If the prizes are to have any real impact they will need to be awarded first and foremost to those who propose measures that are likely to control population growth and secondarily to those who propose schemes for green energy etc.

The effects of stopping population growth in developed countries are much larger than they appear at first sight:

See Population Matters

Having one less child is 25 times more effective than foregoing the use of a car because each child, on average, gives rise to an entire line of extra people.  Developed countries are the worst CO2 emitters:

No developed country should have an expanding population.  The worst offenders for population growth in developed countries, such as the UK, should be ashamed of themselves and cannot begin to tackle the crisis until they have controlled their population growth.

The worst outcome of this crisis will be humanity holed up in "Green" megacities with nature in wildlife parks between thousands of square kilometres of agridesert. Those who propose such solutions should be treated for mental illness rather than given prizes.


See The biomass distribution on Earth
Yinon M. Bar-On, Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo
PNAS May 21, 2018. 201711842; published ahead of print May 21, 2018.
  Population and development Review 37(4): 613–636 (december 2011)

and Vaclav Smil Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact Population and Development Review 37(4): 613–636 (December 2011)


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