Last week, the Royal Society published two papers on the sustainable carrying capacity of New Zealand. I’ve been working on these for a while but, as ever, I don’t feel like I authored them. Instead, they’re a consolidation of discussions with experts, reviewed by yet more experts. There’s a huge list of names of the back of them, go see.
The papers are asking the question of how many people can New Zealand support and copiously failing to give a simple answer, but that’s ok, coz this stuff is hard. For instance, here’s some of the press about the papers:
Kiwis take more than a fair share – NZ Herald
Less television, more gardening suggested – Otago Daily Times
Both those articles miss the point, or rather they are casting about for a simple message – that we’re overshooting the planet’s capability to support us. There’s a bunch of issues with that simple message, which I’ll get around to describing another time, but the primary one is that we know we’re in overshoot, we’ve known that for really quite some time, and saying it again isn’t going to change that.
We know that, so let’s think a bit harder