Economic growth desirable for UK but not at expense of nature

The UK is going through a bit of an economic malaise. Productivity is too low. Too many people who should be economically active are not and have decided to take health welfare payments instead and watch television which is why during the current general election, the Labour Party has campaigned on the back of a manifesto pledge that they will focus on the economy and grow it.

Is it possible to grow the economy and maintain excellent conservation of nature
Is it possible to grow the economy and maintain excellent conservation of nature? I think not. Image: MikeB

Historically, the Labour Party has been good at spending money but not making it. They want to change that public profile because they realise that the UK is already in far too much debt thanks to Covid-19 primarily and you can’t simply borrow money to spend it on infrastructure investments and then give more money to unproductive publicly owned organisations such as the NHS.

Jenni Russell, a Times journalist, in her opinion piece yesterday, writes about something which is dear to my heart and it should be dear to the heart of all animal advocates and conservationists. She says in her headline “Nature the loser from Labour’s growth drive”.

She’s saying that it is all very well for the Labour Party to fight for better economic growth in order to make money to then give it to government bodies to improve the lives of citizens but without any reference to the consequences of this on damaging nature it is a flawed policy.

She says that the Labour Party has “neglected to spell out how it will balance mass building projects with their devastating effect on biodiversity”.

It’s all very well building millions of new homes to accommodate millions of new arrivals to this country but without a concomitant commitment to protecting wildlife habitat, pure economic growth will be a failure.

The problem as I see it is this: it’s impossible to balance the two objectives. It’s impossible to improve conservation (protect wildlife) while improving economic growth. You can instigate some fancy methods to mitigate damage to wildlife during building programmes but the overall end result is loss of habitat and habitat destruction one way or another.

Economic growth means more economic human activity which means things like mining, infrastructure building, house building et cetera all of which potentially or actually damages wildlife habitat and the destruction of wildlife habitat is the single biggest threat to all wildlife species on the planet. And it is always due to increased human activity.

Improving in conservation would take place naturally if there was less human activity. Remove people from the planet and you have perfect wildlife conservation. The two don’t go together really. What I mean is humans are the Antichrist as far as wild animals are concerned. They are the devil; the disease which is consistently damaged habitat.

We know this because wildlife is terrified of humans. Even the top predators such as lions and leopards in Africa run, scared from the sound of human voices. The human voice signals the presence of humans and humans are dangerous and all animals know this.

I feed foxes because I love them and they know me but they are scared of me. They run terrified from me when they see me. It’s a great shame. I could gradually make friends with them but it would take a long time in building up trust and their default emotional response to seeing a human is to distrust them and rightly so.

Jenni Russell says that “Labour is betting its political future on growth. That’s its core message. It’s a changed party.”

And she adds that “In many ways this attitude is to be welcomed. After 14 years of destructive Conservative government we are in a dire state and need galvanising.”

But she further adds:

“..there is a glaring absence in Labour’s plans and that is how it will deal with the inescapable tension between promoting mass building projects and their devastating effect on the natural world. Around the globe we are destroying nature faster than it can recover. The biodiversity that sustains life on earth has been shrinking rapidly, accelerating during the past 50 years as human activity eliminates and degrades fragile ecosystems.”

You couldn’t say it better and it is a state of affairs which has been in place since the Industrial Revolution. There’s been consistent destruction of wildlife habitat for hundreds of years actually and it is accelerating. They say that in 2080, or beyond, the human population will gradually shrink but in the meantime it’s growing in most countries and especially on the continent of Africa which is perhaps the most important geographical area for wildlife conservation I’m afraid it’s failing badly. Because of human population growth and the tension that brings in the human-to-animal relationship. There’s far too much human-animal conflict.

And China has infiltrated Africa in a very big way in order to mine precious metals and minerals. They’ve done deals with the African leaders who’ve borrowed billions of dollars from China to leave them in hock to that very commercially aware country which gives China leverage in Africa to do as they please with this continent, to abuse it and use it. I’m afraid the African leaders have been very naïve.

I have digressed. Britain is one of the most highly populated countries on the planet and the population is growing consistently because of immigration primarily. The wild spaces are being destroyed and Labour does not have a strong manifesto to protect wildlife habitat. Their argument is one-sided: let’s grow the economy to make human lives better. Unfortunately this will be at the expense of animal lives.

I’ll finish up with Jenni Russell’s words: “Labour is in danger of taking nature’s bounty for granted as it once took the economy’s productivity for granted – something that will always provide. In 2024 this is unforgivable.”

I’ll tell you what: Labour will not focus on wildlife conservation. When push comes to shove growing the economy always beats conservation and I believe there is probably no way to balance economic growth and maintain or even improve conservation. The two are anathema to each other.

RELATED: Providing correct habitat is key for bird conservation

1 thought on “Economic growth desirable for UK but not at expense of nature”

  1. There are some interesting responses to Jenni Russell’s article referred to. There are some Times letters to the editor which refer to it as well. One from Lord Horam says that “It is perfectly possible to devise an economic growth policy that does not gobble up land on an already overcrowded island.” Comment: I’m not sure he’s correct. It seems almost impossible to have economic growth without nature being destroyed to some extent.

    Another letter writer, Dr. Steven J Lockwood, a population biologist, said that, “There is much to commend in Jenni Russell’s analysis. However, she does not mention the primary driving force behind the developments she identifies: population growth. Over the past 25 years the UK population has grown by almost 8.5 million or 15%, the majority of whom choose to live south of the Humber-Mersey. Not only do these people need homes but also essential infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, offices and factories in which to work and distribution warehouses to ensure that they receive the food and clothing they need. Until such time as the population stabilises (and hopefully decreases) nationally, regionally and globally, it is regrettable but inevitable that natural habitats, flora and fauna will continue to be lost. The extent to which this process can be slowed is a moot point.”

    Comment: he is saying exactly what I’m saying which I’m pleased in one sense but sad in the other.

    A point that needs to be made is that a significant percentage if not the majority of this population growth comes from immigration and much of it currently illegal immigration which is a major topic of discussion during this current election campaigning.

    Another person who wrote in response to her article, David Tams, in Worcester, said that “Labour’s pledge to overhaul planning regulations and build millions more homes and some new homes overlooks the overall environmental damage this will cause. The construction of housing estates, industrial estates and new towns will involve the destruction of countless acres of green fields, miles of hedgerow and mature trees that grow alongside. Multiplied across the country this will result in a vast loss of countryside. Labour says that brownfield sites will be used but we know that developers will target greenfield and greenbelt sites. We should protect and enhance this precious asset not destroy it.”

    Here, here!

Leave a Comment

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful Note: I will donate 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment made over the next three months on pages where comments can be made.
follow it link and logo

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

At heart this site is about ANTHROPOCENTRISM meaning a human-centric world.

Post Category: Conservation > Economic growth