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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dick Smith's Population Crisis. The dangers of unsustainable growth for Australia.

* As published in the September 2011 issue Good Gabble



“We need to aspire to a world where every child is wanted and cherished, and can be well nourished and raised with a decent standard of living; where each one is created by choice, not by accident or coercion or because of a man's power over a woman” ~ Dick Smith.

In his book Population Crisis, The dangers of unsustainable growth in Australia, Dick Smith tackles the debate of Australia and global population growth. Using statistics, facts, figures, studies and good old fashion commons sense Dick Smith weaves his knowledge and lifetime experiences into a journey that opens your eyes and questions the future of our world.

“In 2011 the world's population exceeded 7 billion. Each year we add nearly 80 million people and by mid-century we will require twice as much food and double the energy we use today. Australia will be deeply affected by these trends - we have the fastest growing population of any developed nation. These are the staggering facts that confronted Dick Smith. They set him on his crusade to alert us to the dangers of unsustainable growth. They are the facts that have convinced him that if we are to ensure the survival of our civilisation and the health of the planet then we must put a stop to population growth, now.

As our cities continue their unrestrained growth, as we battle daily on crowded public transport and clogged freeways, and as we confront the reality of water and power shortages, Dick challenges the long-held myth that growth is good for us. But more importantly he offers ways for us to re-invent our economy, to reassess the way we live and to at least slow down that ticking clock. This is a provocative, powerful and urgent call to arms.”

I started this book not knowing what to think and without having formed an opinion. When I first heard the book was being published I was interested but promised myself I would not get caught up in media hype and controversy until I had read the book and been allowed to form my own opinion. Would Dick Smith be able to maintain my interest long enough to have me consider his options and make changes?

Dick Smith you have achieved. I loved this book. From the opening introduction to the final page it flows beautifully, filling the readers mind with not only Australian knowledge but world wide statistics and facts. Dick Smith makes points that are valid and true. He shows he is a man with compassion and good will for the future of not only his own grandchildren but children world wide. Yeah but he has money I hear you murmur. Dick acknowledges this in his book and confesses to his over consumption of goods and services. He accepts we are all human and acknowledges the division between rich and poor and the huge difference between the resources used by rich and poor nations. He discusses his current contribution to the world and his willingness to continuing to contribute. He challenges others who are wealthy to join him.

I loved the humbleness to this book. The recognition of all of us being equal and the support and respect of basic human rights for all regardless of race, religion or sex. Dick Smith is a true gentleman, who, through this book Population Crisis, has gained a new respect from myself. He is compassionate and respectful to others and their opinions whilst questioning their reasons, providing thought and consideration.

Before reading this book I briefly remember hearing mention in mainstream media of Dick's support for Australia bringing in a one child policy, this I did not find to be true within the book.

“ Personally, I do not support coercive control of population, such as China's one-child policy. I support giving women the freedom to control their own fertility; I know they will make the correct decisions, and eventually even men will come to see that family planning makes sense,” says Dick Smith.

He continues to write: “ Nothing in the population trends gives us reason to be relaxed. The question is not whether the world's population stops expanding but what will cause it – women having fewer children by choice, or a series of catastrophes that mean there are fewer women to have any children at all.”

In Population Crisis Dick Smith strikes a balance, leaving no issue unturned. His outlook on the way society views and treats our elderly is one that has been close to my heart for some time. It is about time that we, as humans, embraced our elderly for what they have still got to offer and what they have offered instead of seeing them as a burden on our society who, due to age, do not contribute.

“ We would be much better off finding ways to benefit from the wisdom and experience of older Australians, encouraging them to contribute their knowledge across business, community groups and voluntary organisations. There are a huge number of baby boomers due to retire in the coming decade or so, yet labour laws, insurance requirements and public attitudes do little to encourage their potential contribution. We vastly underestimate the contributions made by older Australians and treat them as a problem to be solved rather than a resource we can all benefit from, “ writes Dick Smith.

Whilst writing this book Dick Smith spent much time with many influential people, listening to their opinion whilst basing his own, collecting studies and weighing possibilities.

“In this case I have sought opinions from some of the smartest people in the world, and have benefited from the wisdom of those who in many cases have spent their professional lifetime investigating complex subjects,"  writes Dick Smith. “ All I can add is a small measure of commonsense and a dose of scepticism.”

At times he is opinionated but never naive. He is open and honest and knows that he has opened himself to judgment and controversy but he is realistic. Like all of us Dick Smith is a family man first and foremost and his love for his family shines through in this book. It is for the future of his grandchildren that he felt the need to speak out and voice his opinion in the hope that all would listen.

It is not very often that I am completely and utterly passionate about a message in a book but within Population Crisis I have found this. This is a book that should be a compulsory read by all, especially our politicians who have the power to make a change on our behalf. If you care about your children and their future, the future of their children and the future of our planet then I urge you to read Population Crisis, The dangers of unsustainable growth for Australia and find out what we, as a nation, can do to help.

Dick Smith has inspired me to make changes and left me wanting to read this book over and over, absorbing every word until I know I have got it right. He has definitely left a subject of passion in my heart as I source the further readings suggested in the back of the book.

“ For all my wealth, my aeroplanes and helicopters, I am never happier than when bushwalking in the Blue Mountains, or camping on some wonderful outback riverbank. Of course there is nothing wrong in aspiring to a better quality of life, but ask yourself how many of the modern-day gadgets we accumulate really bring us much lasting pleasure. Family, friends, community, good health and a sense of purpose remain the foundations of happiness, just as they always have. Our addiction to growth often takes us further and further away from these basics” ~ Dick Smith.

Published by: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 978 – 1 – 74237 – 657 - 8

review: Jennifer Deaves