Overpopulation prophecy unfolds

Fifty years after the best-seller The Population Bomb warned of the perils of overpopulation and environmental destruction, renowned American biologist Professor Paul Ehrlich gave an update at Flinders University.

More than 200 people came to the Matthew Flinders Theatre to hear him speak.

For those who missed the public lecture, a full version, or edited version (below), of the public lecture can be viewed online.

The lecture was organised by Flinders University Professor Corey Bradshaw, who has collaborated for many years with Professor Ehrlich and his wife Professor Anne Ehrlich, who co-direct the Centre for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, California.

Professor Ehrlich, who have been a regular visitor to Australia since the 1960s, pointed to this month’s bushfires across an unprecedented area of NSW and Queensland – along with drought and bushfires in other states – as clear signs of his predictions of widespread societal upheaval, climate change and environmental devastation caused by fossil fuel use and other human activities.

He says worse is to come as the planet with limited resources copes with a global population expected to blow out from more than 7.5 billion to an estimated 9.7 billion by 2050.

A panel discussion at the Bedford Park public lecture included SA Chief Scientist University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen, Dr Susannah Eliott from the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC), and Flinders College of Science and Engineering Dean (Education) Professor Karen Burke da Silva.

Professor Bradshaw leads the Global Ecology Laboratory and is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.

On the day of the lecture Professor Bradshaw and Flinders colleague Frédérik Saltré wrote in The Conversation on ‘What is a ‘mass extinction’ and are we in one now?


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