Population – The Elephant In The Room

Last night I watched a documentary by Dick Smith (the well known Australian entrepreneur and business man) titled The Population Puzzle.

It was a breath of fresh air, it was about time that someone besides myself,other green bloggers and one or two politicians, called out that the planet is now well and truly past its human carrying limit.  We have 6.8 billion humans on the planet due to cheap fossil fuels.  As we hit peak everything, there is only one realistic way that the population of humans is going to go, and that is down. Growth at all costs is not sustainable for anyone.  We have to break this paradigm.  Australia only has 6% of its total land that is arable, and we are rapidly covering it up with housing sub-divisions.  Unsustainable to say the least.

If you missed the doco on the ABC1 a few days ago like I did (no telly of course), then visit  

to watch it.  The ABC only keeps these shows up there for a week or so, so be quick.  It may only be available to Australian readers only.

However, as a taster, here is the first 3 minutes of the show to whet your curiosity.

And to show that he is a man of action, Dick has offered the Wilberforce Award of AUD$1,000,000. Watch what he has to say.

I was very impressed and look forward to further developments.


  1. says

    The Population Institute (Washington DC), is gathering a large community of scientists, scholars, writers and other concerned citizens to “Speak Out” publicly on human population as a fundamental sustainability issue this February, 2011. You are all urged to participate!


  2. says

    Sorry to be the party pooper, but as much as I see population as a huge worldwide problem, I saw Dick Smith’s presentation you posted as racist, politically biased and factually incorrect.

    Much of Australia’s population increase, as I see it, has been immigration, not raw birth numbers.

    Furthermore, to view Australia as an isolate is not ecologically valid – we have to see the country as part of the world, and its problems as a facet of the world’s problems.

    Population *is* the elephant in the room – trouble is, Aussies view it as someone else’s elephant.

    Aussies are great at wanting other countries to reduce their populations. I’ve lost track of the amount of discussions I’ve heard in which Aussies praise China’s one child policy, for example.

    But do Aussies want that policy themselves? Do you? Do I? Would you have wanted a strict, one child policy enforced on you and your siblings? Probably not.

    We want one set of rules for other people, and one (a more comfortable set) for ourselves. That’s normal, and human, but hardly fair.

    I think the answer to Dick Smith’s problem is easy, and unfortunately unpalatable: responsibility for our own actions, and one set of guidelines for everyone worldwide, with a level playing field for all.

    Just my party-pooping thought 😉

  3. Anonymous says

    Hey Gav, this is your kind of job mate, everything Dick has said is your thinking proccess, why not give it a shot and apply for the job in the competion. You certainly have the public profile and know how to go about doing the study/Plan.

  4. says

    Hi Gavin,

    Did you get to see the Q&A that was on afterwards.

    We had to wonder if some of the panel and audience paid any attention to the documentary. Either they didn’t get it or they refuse to get it.

    My husband discussed it at work and he couldn’t believe the negative response toward the film. People don’t want to know not while they aren’t been personally affected.

    I reckon good on Dick Smith and I hope he keeps up the good work.

    Did you hear the quip someone made about making Dick Smith Condoms.

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