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STEP Matters 183

STEP Matters 183

About a year ago the discovery of a new species of Hibbertia in was announced. The species, with the scientific name Hibbertia sp Turramurra and common name of Julian’s Hibbertia, was officially listed as critically endangered under the Threatened Species Act in September.

Friday, 18 December 2015 23:40

Vale Glenn Johnson

Sadly another STEP stalwart has died. Glenn Johnson was a member of the committee for nine years from 1984 to 1992. His fellow committee members describe Glenn as a sensitive person who loved the natural environment and who was passionate about his family, garden and work with the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. He was a born teacher and explainer.

Friday, 18 December 2015 23:41

Young Scientist Award 2015

The Science Teachers’ Association of NSW conducts a program to assist students and their teachers to carry out scientific investigations. Since 1992 an annual award program has provided prizes for the outstanding projects. STEP sponsors an award for a project relating to an environmental issue.

Wander through the bushland of Wahroonga Estate and you will see the delicate heads of native orchids peeping out from between Sarsparilla (Smilax glyciphylla) and Old Man’s Beard (Clematis aristata). The first indications that orchid flowers are about to emerge are the tiny leaves – heart-shaped, ovular, arrow-headed – solitary leaves of a variety of shapes that carpet the ground.

Friday, 18 December 2015 23:47

Ever-changing Birds of Northern Sydney

Ross Rapmund gave a fascinating talk on the changing birds in northern Sydney. He started with a slide which compared the ten most common birds before 1900 with recent data. A hundred years ago the most common species were small birds with an average weight of 18 g (e.g. Superb Fairy Wren, New Holland Honeyeater, Golden Whistler and Willie Wagtail). Now the most common birds are much bigger with an average weight of 180 g (e.g. Common Myna, Noisy Miner, Magpie, Currawong and Rainbow Lorikeet).

Friday, 18 December 2015 23:48

Concern about Changes to Biodiversity Laws

The NSW Government is currently considering legislation to implement the recommendations of the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel contained in their report released in December 2014.

This article by Connie Harris was originally published in the October edition of Native Plants for NSW. It concerns the massive expansion of roads proposed in the vicinity of the Northern Beaches Hospital development. See more detail at http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/sydney-north/northern-beaches-hospital/index.html. It is of great concern to us all that these new roads will greatly encourage car dependence and inevitable congestion, at great cost to wildlife habitat.

Friday, 18 December 2015 23:58

United Nation’s Population Projections

Silly me; I thought world population now around 7 billion was going to stabilise at around 9 billion by 2050.

Not so according to the latest medium-variant projection by the United Nations [1]. What they predict is that Africa’s population will continue to grow so that by century end the population will be nearly four times what it is now.

Well might you say that that would be impossible, the continent struggles to feed itself now. How could it possibly accommodate so many people? [2]

1
Population (in millions) according to the medium-variant projection

A famous population pessimist writing around 1800 was the Reverend Thomas Malthus. He got it wrong because he didn’t foresee the opening up of the New World and the dramatic reduction in transportation costs among other things. Nevertheless his basic thesis was right; population tends to grow faster than food production.

Of interest is that the population of Europe is expected to fall by 2050, continuing on to 2100. Asia falls after 2050.

It’s important that we look at this in terms of annual percentage changes. The table below is based on the above but with the first column showing the rate of change since 2000.

2

These numbers might look low but please remember that 2% pa means near 25% overall over 10 years. The African 1.1% over 50 years means a growth of 77%.

The countries with the highest rates of growth from 2000 to 2015 are (% pa):

 3

And those with the lowest are:

 4

Australia’s was 1.5% pa. This has been the subject of much debate. Do you remember Kevin Rudd’s famous Big Australia statement?

STEP has contributed to the debate and has published a position paper on this subject

The countries with populations of at least 100 million in 2015 are:

 5

Some near 100 million with high growth rates are Ethiopia (99.4 million), Egypt (91.5 million) and Vietnam (93.4 million). Joining all of these by 2100 will be (current population shown):

 6

All these are in Africa except Iraq. Please don’t ask what the populations are likely to be in 2100, it’s too depressing, but to give you a teaser, Congo will be 389 million and Zambia 105 million.

To reflect on the issue of Africa, Rwanda’s population in 2100 is expected to be
25.7 million or 975 people per sq km. This is a country that has a very high proportion of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture. Ku-ring-gai’s density is not much above this at 1,278 people per sq km.

Japan will drop off the list.

One wonders just how accurate current counts are. Advanced countries use censuses where each household must complete a form every five or ten years.

What happens in third world countries with many villages often difficult to access and with literacy issues; think New Guinea? Presumably there is a lot of estimation.

The following table provides much available detail for selected countries. The first one is Australia. We should be familiar with our own country.

7

The next two are our near neighbours to the north. Neither has been a source of migration pressure on Australia. Indonesia has an enormous population; Papua New Guinea’s has grown rapidly.

China is extremely important. On 29 October China announced a further relaxation of its one child policy, it will now be a two child policy. China has been a major source of migrants to Australia and that is likely to continue.

Uganda is included as a representative African country. One was tempted to say typical but there is enormous variation across the continent. Russia is interesting because of projected population falls.

The first observation is to reflect on just how small Australia’s population is compared to the other countries. As of 2015 it is less than 10% of Indonesia’s and less than 2% of China’s.

The next part of the table shows annual percentage change, firstly for 2000–15, and then for the remainder of the century. The latter is very much an average so also shown is the end position, i.e. the change in the last year of the century.

Australia grew at 1.5% to 2015 but by 2099–2100 this will be down to 0.3%. Is this believable?

All the other countries in the list will also have much lower rates of population growth by then, except Russia which is already in decline. This is caused by birth rates being less than death rates and net migration.

To maintain population, births per woman, needs to be above two. It’s not now in Australia which is what gave rise to Peter Costello’s baby bonus.

Look at the frightening figure for Uganda for 2010–15 – nearly six. The rate for China is expected to increase.

Life expectancy is high for Australia and is expected to increase, as will be the case for all the other countries shown. The Russian figures are low for what is essentially a European country.

This increase will be accompanied by significant increases in the aged population; in Australia’s case the 80+ rises from 4% of the total now to 14% in 2100. Hopefully there will be improvements in medicine, in particular a treatment for dementia, so that people in this age bracket will have some quality of life.

[1]   World Population Prospects: Key Findings and Advance Tables (2015 revision) Working Paper ESA/P/WP.241, United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division

[2]   Why has Africa become a Net Food Importer?

STEP member, Jim Wells, has provided this article on the outlook for future world population numbers.

Media Release 17 September 2015, The Hon Kelvin Thomson, Federal Member for Wills.

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