Voices

Why world population growth matters to S’pore

From

Vivienne Wee and Faizah Jamal

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Published: July 10, 7:55 PM
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World Population Day, July 11, passes largely unnoticed in this global city. However, we cannot ignore how a world population now reaching 7.2 billion affects all life on Earth.

Increasing demands for finite resources are aggravated by inequitable and unsustainable resource use. The extinction of species is disrupting the global ecosystem, adversely affecting climate and, consequently, our sources of food and medicines.

Singapore espouses a pro-natalist policy, reiterated recently in the White Paper. This plan for population growth is driven by a paradigm requiring a high old-age support ratio to provide for an ageing population. But what happens when those of working age, in turn, grow old?

In her speech to Parliament in February, Nominated Member of Parliament Faizah Jamal (co-writer of this letter) said:

“We act as if all that economic growth, all those companies and talent that we want to entice, all the goodies that we want in life, all the construction that is going to happen, do not, in fact, come from somewhere and have to end up somewhere, in the environment.

“Yet, there is no mention in the White Paper about the impact of so many people on our carbon footprint, our food security.”

This footprint will further strain environmental resources. Decisions made here have impact beyond Singapore, just as we experience the impact of actions elsewhere, including forest fires.

While it is the Government’s responsibility to provide infrastructure, its planning process does not prioritise environmental sustainability.

The proposed Cross Island Line will cut through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, affecting species found nowhere else worldwide. Reclamation plans will affect dugongs, wild dolphins and the endangered green and Hawksbill turtles. Will Chek Jawa also disappear?

Plans for population growth in a finite environment manifest problematic values.

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