Connect with us


Seven billion reasons to consider our ethical and environmental impact

As the UN estimates that the seven billionth baby will be born today, Simon Leadbetter says ‘happy birthday’ and explores whether it is our growing populations or developed economies that are the problem.

The influential scholar of political economy and population (demography) Thomas Malthus earned his place in history by his work, Essays on the Principles of Population. In this essay, first published in 1798, he argued that population growth (which was exponential) would outstrip food supply growth (which was linear), causing a major demographic or ‘Malthusian’ crisis.



As the UN estimates that the seven billionth baby will be born today, Simon Leadbetter says ‘happy birthday’ and explores whether it is growing populations or developed economies that are the problem.

The influential scholar of political economy and population (demography) Thomas Malthus earned his place in history through his work, Essays on the Principles of Population. In this essay, first published in 1798, he argued that population growth (which he argued was exponential) would outstrip food supply growth (which was linear), causing a major demographic or ‘Malthusian’ crisis.


Organisations, such as Population Matters, are concerned that the current rate of population growth is unsustainable. They campaign to include this ‘demographic crisis’ in debates about climate change. They argue that as the developing world industrialises, with their growing populations, their carbon emissions and resource consumption will rise to developed world levels. This will in turn create a catastrophic environmental effect.

The United Nations’ World Population Prospects estimates that global population will reach, and possibly peak at, nine billion in 2050. Whether the earth can sustainably carry nine billion people is open to debate but most of this growth occurs in the low-emission developing world, or the world’s poorest countries.

The United States (1% population growth 2005-2010, UN) has less than 5% of the world’s population but emits nearly a fifth of the carbon emissions.  Conversely, India (1.5% population growth 2005-2010, UN) has under a fifth of the world’s population but emits fewer than 5% of the carbon emissions.  In terms of affluence, a good proxy for individual use of resources, an average Indian would have to see their income rise 34 times to equal that of an average American.

The Indian economy may be growing at a brisk 11% per annum (IMF) but it would need an enormous gearshift to equal the individual consumption level of the US anytime soon. At current growth rates it will take 46 years. To expect the developing world to forgo the benefits of industrialisation, lifting their poor out of poverty, is a negotiating dead end.

Moreover, birth rates fall with industrialisation. There is significant evidence that rising female literacy (necessary for a skilled workforce) and increased affluence leads to a falling birth rate. In 2000-2005, the average world fertility was 2.65 children per woman, about half the level in 1950-1955 (5 children per woman). The UN projects global fertility to decline further to 2.05 children per woman – near to the replacement rate, i.e. two parents are replaced by two children. If this fertility rate continues to fall, there will eventually be a slow decline in global population.

Rather than a debate about population growth, we need to invest in improving education in the developing world and sharing, through international developments and fairer trade, a greater proportion of our affluence. We also need massive investment in clean technologies so the developing economies can industrialise without exacerbating the environmental damage the developed world has already created and benefited from.  To encourage them to do this we need to take a lead rather than turn back the UK’s commitment to a clean economy.

The large numbers and ethical issues involved around population growth make good Malthusian headlines. It is clear we will have a massive problem if the developing world adopts and then fully implements our industrial model. Regardless, as long as the wealthy developed world believes it can carry on polluting the world and using up its resources while lecturing the poorer developing world to get their population growth in order, we will make no progress on real solutions to the problems we all face.

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By --

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

Continue Reading


5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House



home renovation and improvement
Shutterstock Licensed Image - By Stock-Asso

Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Poznyakov >

Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

Continue Reading