Is more people better?

New Zealand, like the world, seems to be on a growth treadmill. Is continued population growth really a good thing?

A thought provoking post by Bunji at The Standard who suggests This is not the growth you’re looking for.

There are different views on The Standard about growth and whether we really need it.  I’m all for environmentally-, socially-sustainable growth, and I’m a programmer, so I’m in a fairly “weightless” part of the economy.

But here’s one bit of growth that really seems pointless to me: that achieved only by increasing the number of people.

While there should be better ways of measuring our economy and success than anything GDP-based (Robert Kennedy: “it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”), it seems a simple fix to at least make it GDP-per-capita, while we’re working out the complexities of those other measurements.

Because if we’re only increasing GDP by increasing the number of people, as we are currently, we’re loading up the environment and we’re not even individually getting any richer for it.  Thanks National.

If you look at 64,000 immigration last year – 1.5% of the population(!) you’ve got to wonder whether it’s socially sustainable as well.  I love the super-diversity of Auckland, but that’s a lot to swallow in a year.  With about 40,000 of that immigration being to Auckland – a city that’s already got a massive house shortage and struggles creating enough infrastructure – you’ve got to wonder: what’s the point?

While it’s a much bigger problem for Auckland it’s also something New Zealand as a whole should be asking.

The human population can’t keep growing forever. We can’t keep transforming the earth we live on indefinitely.

Should we strive for bigger, more because we don’t want to be left behind the rest of the world?

And leave it to future generations to worry about more overcrowding and the depletion of resources?

Where’s the government’s plan?  We all know they haven’t got one.  Laissez-faire, set the conditions “right” and it’ll all come good apparently.

Grow and hope?

Or think seriously about humankind’s future, and do something about unsustainable growth before we self destruct, or condemn the world’s children to an insurmountable problem?

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92 Comments

  1. Pantsdownbrown

     /  17th February 2016

    Is this the same ‘Standard’ that thinks we should take more refugees, and at one time complained a lot about the number of people leaving these shores for Australia??

    I can’t seem to open that link to the story but what are they suggesting the govt do? Start culling the population?

    And whilst on the subject (but from live to dead people) I think it’s time we banned burials in this country, a shocking waste of land and an outdated practise.

    Reply
    • Refugees are a (currently) small but probably important part of the population equation.

      If there’s a major disruptive international event, like war, or volcanic eruption that impacts significantly on food or water supplies, we could be under sudden pressure to accommodate many more.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  17th February 2016

      750 refugees per an…64,000 immigration….keep it in perspective pants,don’t want you drowning this early in the day.Hang in till noon when Al will appear and throw you a life buoy….a concrete one.

      Reply
      • Pantsdownbrown

         /  17th February 2016

        Your comprehension isn’t the best Blazer – the left want substantially MORE refugees & you also don’t take into account all the other family members each refugee can bring into the country over and above the quota. Obviously your spanking by me yesterday regarding your hypocrisy is still stinging a bit…….

        Reply
        • mrMan

           /  17th February 2016

          And don’t forget that we very often don’t get near the quota. And don’t forget that as an island nation our refugees are screened well before they get anywhere near a plane or a boat. And don’t forget that the next out take from Mangere are getting sent to live in your street.

          Reply
    • Timoti

       /  17th February 2016

      Thanks for pointing out socialist hypocrisy, PDB. Or should that be muddled thinking like Andrew Little who wants to deploy the SAS.

      “Start culling the population?”.

      Don’t give them ideas or we will have guys hanging out of helicopters over Remuera culling old biddies on their way to have a blue rinse.

      Pete makes a good point about NZ being put under population pressure in the event of global disruption. That is happening already. New Zealand has brokers who search for properties,buy them, and have them fitted out for wealthy overseas clients. New Zealand is No1 on wealthy “preppers” lists. Pete’s area is the preferred region for such purchases.

      Agree with you about cemeteries. Lets hope Alkaline Hydrolysis takes off as an alternative form of body disposal.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkaline_hydrolysis_%28death_custom%29

      Reply
      • Pantsdownbrown

         /  17th February 2016

        Personally I think natural burials are also a better alternative to the current burial system: http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/6779056/Natural-burials-the-way-to-go

        Give back to the earth and all that…….

        Reply
        • Timoti

           /  17th February 2016

          You are still using land?

          Reply
          • Pantsdownbrown

             /  17th February 2016

            Yes – but still better than current practices – less space taken up, no casket clogging up the earth, could be tied in with tree plantings etc

            Reply
            • Timoti

               /  17th February 2016

              My method takes up no space and is eco friendly.Even with less land and trees instead of headstones as per your method, the area in my opinion would still be classed as a cemetery or sacred area.

            • Rob

               /  17th February 2016

              Cremation for me. Little to no space needed.
              In a lot of places growth in population is obviously unsustainable. In NZ we could probably support a much larger population space wise but then we’ed need jobs infrstucture etc. In the event of some worldwide disaster I’d like to think that innovation would come to the fore and NZ would manage to survive it. Not life as we know it now but at least life sustained.

    • Pickled Possum

       /  17th February 2016

      Jeepers PDB No More burials?

      Is that to make way for the multi floored parking buildings to house all the vehicles that take the drivers to their most important work.
      Why not a multi floored burial system.
      Is it just vaporizing by fire today Sir.
      Death is final or so they say so the dead aren’t really that bothered.
      Just the living are consumed with the supposed dilemma of where to park.

      Reply
  2. Iceberg

     /  17th February 2016

    It always the left, demanding less growth, whilst demanding more free stuff.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  17th February 2016

      regurgitating tired,inaccurate cliches is all you have to offer…why bother you parrot the same responses regardless of any issue.

      Reply
      • Pantsdownbrown

         /  17th February 2016

        Why pick on Iceberg? Do you have a monopoly on regurgitating tired, inaccurate clichés & parroting the same responses regardless of any issue?

        Reply
      • Iceberg

         /  17th February 2016

        Pinkos always need more money to buy votes. It’s a vicious circle.

        Reply
        • Rob

           /  17th February 2016

          Like tax cuts. Bribery. Pinkos? Lol. Reds under the bed material. Bet you loved those scary days, you could run around making accusations without looking like a fool. Pity the same doesn’t apply today, just makes you look and sound foolish.

          Reply
          • Iceberg

             /  17th February 2016

            Think you’ll find tax cuts are just leaving people with money they already had. Pinkos hate tax cuts because it reduces the bribery fund.

            Reply
            • Rob

               /  17th February 2016

              Iceberg thinks. Now there’s an oxymoron.
              They don’t have it. They’re paying tax you dolt. Bribery.

  3. David

     /  17th February 2016

    Rather amusing to see most of the comments their would fit perfectly into a UKIP forum.

    Reply
  4. Oliver

     /  17th February 2016

    If we run out of food we can do what Timoti’s ancestor’s did – eat people. So there’s still a glimmer of hope for our children.

    Reply
    • Timoti

       /  17th February 2016

      Or we could do what your ancestors did…..starve.

      All joking aside. An old relative of mine who was one of the last people( I believe) to taste human flesh said she preferred European because of the sweeter fat content. Maori were too sinewy and sour. Lol.?

      So how are we going to work out which immigrants are the best tasting? Do we have a Master Chef programme? Or do we do what the plane wreck surviors did in the Andes Mountains and tuck straight in?.

      Reply
      • Pickled Possum

         /  17th February 2016

        @Timoti
        Nah do what the Aliens are going to do just go for the big fat juicy ones no matter of race creed or colour.:-)
        That’s how ridiculous eating humans sounds/is dontcha think
        we could eat the crickets; first swathed in chocolate, yum.

        Reply
        • Timoti

           /  17th February 2016

          llddidjd civvvv lc,ll dpwdlwddwl,elclec,lc,,.

          wjwiwiiwdjwdjwidjwidjwjdjdwdjwd !!!!ms

          That’s Alien speak.

          Reply
      • Oliver

         /  17th February 2016

        Haha we can joke about it… but this will be someone’s reality one day.

        Reply
  5. Oliver

     /  17th February 2016

    Why do we even allow immigrants in the first place? I can’t see the point. Refugee’s are understandable because they have been raped by corporatism but immigrants form the UK? What are the benefits of having pom’s in our country.

    Reply
    • Oliver, I don’t think it is “corporatism” that has been “raping” Syrian, Yazidi and Arab-Christians, hence the huge surge in refugees. I think it was someone else?

      Reply
      • Oliver

         /  17th February 2016

        The USA invades Iraq to secure oil for oil corporatist. An insurgency is organized to repel US invasion. ISIS is formed in the wake of Iraq war with the aim to restore the Islamic state (that has been corrupted by the west) and protect the Islamic world from USA imperialism.

        Reply
        • Iceberg

           /  17th February 2016

          Yes, that clearly explains perfectly why 11 year old girls are sold as sex slaves, gays are thrown from buildings, and Christians are publicly beheaded.

          Reply
      • Rob

         /  17th February 2016

        They’ve been interfering in the ME for years Grumpy. They aren’t raping and killing in the sense of war, but they most certainly are in the sense of propping up dictators who’ll do their bidding. Iran had a democratically elected govt. GB and US didn’t like it, installed the Shah instead, a brutal regime. Why? Because the Iranians felt that their resourses were theirs. How terrible. ISIS arose from those kinds of actions as they continue to happen to this day.

        Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  17th February 2016

      We should allow immigrants so that our own emigrants can be allowed. This means people can live wherever they find the right people and environment to enjoy which makes the world more efficient and accommodating. It means that trades people can go to Australia during lean times here and come back during lean times there. It means that our young people can go overseas and train with specialists in their fields. It means that our country is not so isolated and we can benefit from skilled and experienced people from other cultures as well as enthusiastic young people who want to start a new life and work hard.

      Or we can be stupid Lefties and hide behind our prejudices and ignorance.

      Reply
      • Oliver

         /  17th February 2016

        I’m talking about permanent migration not working holidays or overseas study. But look at the UK which is a first world country. Why do they need to change their circumstances they’re from one of the leading countries in the world. There’s no legitimate reason for them to be allowed to migrate here. As for expertise we have that here already. I think people aren’t happy and they think that if only they lived in NZ they would be happy and content, not true in the case of UK nationals. All the UK people I’ve worked with are constantly complaining about how NZ is shit compared to the UK. So I think we need to readress our immigration policy.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  17th February 2016

          Obviously you mix with a lot of nasty people. Strangely I’m not surprised.

          Both our local doctors are Poms – lovely people and a huge asset to our community and country. But stick with your ignorant prejudices, Lefty. They suit you. But God help NZ if your lot ever win power.

          Reply
          • Mefrostate

             /  17th February 2016

            Can you cool it with the broad attacks on lefties? Plenty of idiots right across the spectrum, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be lumped in with, say, the Conservatives. Racial prejudices typically belong to right-wingers anyway.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              Shall I wait for other Lefties to challenge Oliver’s ignorance and prejudices then? I think it would be a long wait. And of course I’m not a conservative. They can be equally vile.

              “Racial prejudices typically belong to right-wingers anyway.”. Take a walk in south Auckland and check out that theory.

            • Mefrostate

               /  17th February 2016

              You’ve completely missed the point. Oliver doesn’t represent all lefties. The Conservatives don’t represent all right-wingers. When you make sweeping generalisations, you essentially sink to kiwi guy’s level.

              And yes, I’ll happily call out ignorance and prejudices right across the spectrum. Will you?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              Yes. I was one of the first to call out KG and say I was ignoring him from then on.

            • Mefrostate

               /  17th February 2016

              Excellent. So please try to avoid his technique of slagging off an entire ideology simply on the basis of the behaviour of a few of its members.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              So where are the non-extreme sensible moderate Lefties? Oh that’s right. Censured and silenced like Shearer and Goff? And I should not fear that lot winning power? Yeah, right.

            • Mefrostate

               /  17th February 2016

              Think of it as a hierarchy.

              Left-wing politics is an ideology.

              Labour is New Zealand’s major left-wing party.

              Shearer, Goff, Little are politicians with their own individual views, all of whom are members of the Labour party.

              Oliver is a seemingly left-wing individual commenting on the internet.

              When discussing one element of the hierarchy, you’re best keeping your jabs focused on the specific level being criticised (and avoid personal attacks). Labour does not speak for all lefties. Goff doesn’t always speak for the entirety of Labour. Oliver certainly doesn’t speak for any of the above.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              My God you are boring, Mefrostate. Do your children get a glazed look when you start up?

            • Oliver

               /  17th February 2016

              I don’t represent the left, I represent the center. So get your facts right.

            • Mefrostate

               /  17th February 2016

              Ugh. You were one of the last I respected around here, but I think that’ll do it. I’m out.

            • Oliver

               /  17th February 2016

              Gee what do I have to do to get respect back. Burn a bra?

            • @ Alan – “So where are the non-extreme sensible moderate Lefties?”

              Right here dude!!! Keeping an eye on both the James Gang and Dangerous Deputies like yourself …

              Topic title change: “Better people is more” …?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              @PZ, yes, I accept you are a nuanced Lefty.

              @Mefrostate, I’m not sure why you think I should be more tolerant of your lecture mode than your children? Nor why you think I am here to please you.

            • Rob

               /  17th February 2016

              @Mefrostate
              Don’t let Wilkinson bother you. That’s all he’s got, insults and name calling. Basically a shitty troll.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              Classic transference, Rob.

            • Rob

               /  17th February 2016

              And he always tries to have the last word as well. Like a child. Just another 12 year old playing on mums computer. Next will be, all lefties are poopy heads.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              No, only you, Rob. A poopy-headed potty mouth sounds just right for you.

            • Oliver

               /  17th February 2016

              There’s something wrong with Mefrostate. Might be something to with her extreme feminist ideology.

            • There’s nothing extreme about feminist ideology. You either behind in reasonable equality or not.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              No sense of humour?

            • mrMan

               /  17th February 2016

              He can’t. To the left lie all his broken dreams of political power and glory. Too much pain that way lies. Must cover it up with callous condemnation that they might not see the tear as it form in the corner of his eye.

            • Oliver

               /  17th February 2016

              Walt Whitman?

            • mrMan

               /  17th February 2016

              mrMan

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              Thanks for the laugh, mM. That’s sent me chuckling for a coffee. Maybe you do have a future – in comedy, not politics.

            • Timoti

               /  17th February 2016

              What a joke.

      • Rob

         /  17th February 2016

        “We should allow immigrants..” Then why are some many of your ilk in here whining and moaning about allowing 750 refugees (immigrants) most of whom will IMO become productive citizens. They’re scary mooslims is not a reason. Nothing wrong with controlled immigration, we all can benefit.
        “Stupid lefties”, you just can’t let an opportunity to name call go by can you. Small minded is you.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  17th February 2016

          There is a legitimate concern about importing homicidal suicidal religious lunatics – even worse those who corrupt others – and whether they can be filtered out from other Muslims. That is a uniquely Muslim problem.

          Stupid is as stupid does. If the Lefty cap fits, wear it.

          Reply
          • Pickled Possum

             /  17th February 2016

            @ Alan

            “Stupid is as stupid does”
            The war cry of the right royal offended.
            Jeez Al I like what you say till you get to the name calling stage then I make like Snagglepuss “Exit, stage left”.

            oh well in winter I might say
            In this time of colds and flu
            I’d love to see the farighties
            Far Cough and Dye

            Reply
          • Rob

             /  17th February 2016

            There would be bad bastards in any group of immigrants. How many Chinese do we see up on corruption, murder and drug charges. So let’s be concerned about letting them in as well shall we.
            “In 2012, for instance, authorities referred to the Dalai Lama’s prayer sessions for Tibetan self-immolators as “terrorism in disguise.” Better not let him in here again or any other of his Tibetan followers. Or that religious group Falun Gong because they might be terrorists. But they have an NZ branch. “Legitimate concern”, good excuse for a bit of racism. Go join Timoti in his fort under his bed. I’m sure he’ll share his supply of Depends with you. You can both whine the days away crying about lefties. “Stupid is as stupid does.” In your case, yes.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              In your case certainly yes. The number of Chinese and Tibetan immigrants with ambitions to become mass murderers is ….none. Stupid is as stupid does.

            • Rob

               /  17th February 2016

              And you know this, how? Psychic? Both those groups are considered to have terrorist tendancies. You’re just another closet racist Wilkinson.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              And you are just a poopy-headed potty mouth, Rob. If I were racist I could be against Chinese or Tibetans but I am supporting them and challenging a religion, not a race.

              The number of mass terrorist attacks by Chinese and Tibetan immigrants is …. zero.

              Yep, I needed to be psychic to figure that out. A closet psychic in the poop that passes for your mind.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th February 2016

    “Or think seriously about humankind’s future, and do something about unsustainable growth before we self destruct, or condemn the world’s children to an insurmountable problem?”

    As I showed again yesterday, the theoretical physical limits to growth are a mirage in the far distant future. The issues are entirely psychological.

    Reply
    • Kevin

       /  17th February 2016

      “As I showed again yesterday, the theoretical physical limits to growth are a mirage in the far distant future. The issues are entirely psychological.”

      Agreed. As humans our narcissism makes us like to think we are having an profound effect on nature and the earth. We’re not. When it comes to nature we are a tiny ant next to a massive elephant.

      Reply
      • Rob

         /  17th February 2016

        We’re not having an effect on nature and the earth? Lol

        Reply
        • Kevin

           /  17th February 2016

          *Sig *

          I said “profound effect”. It’s up there for everyone to read.

          SJWs always lie.

          Reply
          • Oliver

             /  17th February 2016

            Dude our polar ice caps a melting at an unprecedented rate.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              Wrong. The Antarctic ice extent is at record levels. http://neptune.gsfc.nasa.gov/csb/index.php?section=234

            • kiwi guy

               /  17th February 2016

              That is true, however you should know better than to claim that disproves Global Warming.

              Do you also think because NW USA had a record breaking cold snap last week that means Global Warming is just a Leftie conspiracy?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              I didn’t and I don’t. Straw man much.

            • Oliver

               /  17th February 2016

              Tell that to the Maldives and Kiribati. I don’t think they would appreciate your nonsense.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              Neither are under threat from sea level rise. They simply see the claim as an opportunity for extortion.

              Interesting that you claim NASA publishes nonsense. You would be the expert on that.

            • kiwi guy

               /  17th February 2016

              I’m just trying to figure out your position on Global Warming…? Are you denying it, or denying that human activity is the cause or are you saying it is no big deal?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              Many factors influence climate change including human activities like land and fuel use. However the current measured net effect is modest and no cause for immediate alarm or any actions with major adverse impacts on populations.

            • Oliver

               /  17th February 2016

              “They simply see the claim as an opportunity for extortion.”

              Is this your latest conspiracy theory? I think you need to lay of you tube.

              And is this the NASA that faked the moon landing photos?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th February 2016

              It’s a fact. Go read the science on atolls.

            • David

               /  17th February 2016

              The Maldives are dealing with climate change by building more airports. I imagine that is so everyone can fly somewhere else?

          • Rob

             /  17th February 2016

            “…we are a tiny ant next to a massive elephant.” A little more than that Kevin. And no matter how small some things can have a “profound effect”.
            “SJWs always lie.” What are you, 12? Grow up and learn to talk like an adult.

            Reply
  7. Kevin

     /  17th February 2016

    Bunji, like all authors on The Standard, is one ant short of a picnic. His argument is that because GDP is apparently built on immigration it doesn’t count.

    For the sake of argument let’s say our GDP has been based on getting more people into the country. The problem with this is that even if this is the case the people we bring into the country must, on average, be producing more than what they take in order for there to be an increase in GDP.

    Ok, to be fair Bunji’s is arguing that any growth in population is bad from an environmental standpoint and outweighs any increase in GDP. But again, he’s wrong. The simple fact is there is plenty of land. The problem is logistics but even these logistical problems can be overcome by technology (something Bunji and his ilk are against).

    Reply
    • kiwi guy

       /  17th February 2016

      Your statement on GDP seems confused – I don’t think “what people take” is subtracted in measurements of GDP.

      A migrant could arrive with $1 million and buy heaps of stuff without producing anything and that would contribute to GDP.

      Furthermore we are all encouraged by crazy low interest rates to BORROW a fuck load of money to consume heaps of stuff or just to prop up a declining standard of living – that too contributes to GDP, but it is obvious all we are doing is bringing future spending into the present – which is a cute trick to salvage a global debt ponzi scheme but has serious consequences down the road.

      “The simple fact is there is plenty of land.”

      For what, strip mining?

      Reply
  8. Thoroughbred KG

    Reply
  9. John Schmidt

     /  17th February 2016

    As everything seems to be measured against GDP and these statistics are often used to spank the government, treating this as a purely mathematical problem surely the easiest way to improve all these statistics is to shrink GDP which would improve the statistics derived from the comparison to GDP. The Greens recently pointed out that Keys state of the nation speech focused on financial improvements and not social or environmental issues which in layperson terms means
    National focus on earning before spending
    Greens focus on spending before earning.
    So the answer is now obvious the only party whose strategy by association is to reduce GDP then the Greens are the answer to improving GDP based statistics. A genius solution maybe not.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  17th February 2016

      Rambling incomprehensible drivel.National have borrowed over 100 billion dollars,which is more in 8 years than was borrowed by every administration cumulitavely in the entire rest of NZ’s nationhood.So much for earning before spending,you economic illiterate.

      Reply
  10. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th February 2016

    To point out the bleeding obvious: Auckland is the biggest and fastest growing place in NZ because it is where the jobs and opportunities are. The places that are stagnant or shrinking growth-wise are the ones which force their children to leave.

    Yes, it is wise to look at GDP per capita but no, growth based on population growth is not pointless at all. It increases the opportunities to find like-minded people, increases the markets and opportunities for business and increases the options available for everyone in every aspect of life.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  17th February 2016

      ‘ growth based on population growth is not pointless at all. It increases the opportunities to find like-minded people, increases the markets and opportunities for business and increases the options available for everyone in every aspect of life.’

      are you serious you ,tell that to Filipinos and think before you post in future.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  17th February 2016

        I could certainly find more intelligent Filipinos to discuss economics with. You could of course actually address the subject but I realise that would be a radically novel approach for you.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  17th February 2016

          given there are almost 100 million people in the Philipines its quite concievable that you may meet your doppelganger!

          Reply

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