105 science academies release joint statement ahead of Rio summit

Population growth and global consumption must be addressed urgently, says the IAP, the body representing the world’s 105 scientific academies. In a rare joint statement signed by all 105 bodies, scientists across the globe call for “urgent and coordinated action” to address “two of the most profound challenges to humanity”.

Population and consumption will be two “elephants in the room” at the forthcoming Rio 20+ summit (June 20th – 22nd). There is little point talking about climate change or environmental protection without first addressing how many people are using up the Earth’s resources and how quickly they are doing so.

And it is so serious that the world’s 105 science academies have got together to call for action on this political hot-potato.

For these are politically sensitive issues. Population control means access to contraception. The Vatican for one is threatening to block moves for free access to reproductive health services. And asking people to consume less and work for longer is not going to be a vote winner. The type of negative reporting which often accompanies calls for reduced consumption can be summarised by the following headline from a site called the Register

“No babies, no technology, work till you die…”

A more reasonable (if less catchy) statement came from within the Royal Society in London:

“For too long the dual issues of population and consumption have been left off the table due to political and ethical sensitivities,” said Professor Charles Godfrey, Fellow of the Royal Society and Working Group Chair of the IAP, the global network of science academies. “These are issues that affect us all, developed and developing nations alike, and we must take responsibility for them together.”

Let’s hope the politicians are listening.

Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net.

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