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Paul Hanley, Eleven: The Future of Global Population Growth

Oct 29, 2017

UN projections show global population reaching 11 billion—and the world economy growing by 500%—by the end of this century. Can the planet accommodate 4 billion more people when our current ecological footprint already exceeds Earth’s biocapacity by 60%? This question will preoccupy humanity throughout this century. Our mission is daunting: Somehow, we have to support 50% more people and raise billions out of poverty and reduce our ecological footprint to the sustainable level last found in 1976, when we were just 4 billion.

Clearly, humanity has to change direction. Yet every facet of our social-economic-political order—indeed the totality of the dominant global culture—programs us to maintain the status quo: perpetual material growth. Current models cannot generate the level of change that is demanded. Only a dynamic, grassroots capacity-building process, involving individuals, communities, and institutions, in neighborhoods and villages everywhere—linked together on a global scale—can make this transformation succeed. Making the world work for 11 billion people will be humanity’s greatest challenge. That we will unite to meet this ultimate challenge is neither a utopian vision, nor even a matter of choice. It is the next, inescapable stage in human evolution.

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Paul Hanley

Author, Environmental Columnist

Although I was raised in a city, I became fascinated with agriculture as a youth and decided to “drop out” and become a smallholder farmer in Saskatchewan, Canada where I grew up. I helped form the first community land trust in Canada and lived on a self-sufficient, off grid farm for 10 years. During this time I became engaged in the Earthcare Group, a movement to promote organic gardening and farming and started to teach organic gardening classes for the University of Regina in 1975. I participated in the committee that organized a series of six groundbreaking conferences on organic farming involving producers and government and university experts. I edited and co-wrote Earthcare–Ecological Agriculture in Saskatchewan, published in 1980, a guide to organic farming in the prairie region. These activities contributed to the formation of a substantial organic farming industry in Saskatchewan and Canada in the 1980s and onward. I have published five books and 1600 articles on the environment, sustainable development, agriculture, and other topics.  I was environment columnist with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix from 1989 to 2016. I am a recipient of the Canadian Environment Award, the Meewasin Conservation Award, the Organic Connections Pioneer Organic Communicator Award, and the Saskatchewan Sustainability Award from the Regional Centre of Excellence for Education on Sustainable Development. My book ELEVEN (2014) received the 2015 University of Saskatchewan President’s Award for Non-fiction and the 2015 ABS North America Award for Distinguished Scholarship. My biography Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker, the First Global Conservationist (University of Regina Press 2018), features a foreword by HRH Prince Charles and introduction by Jane Goodall.See Faculty Bio

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