Science Interviews

Interview

Sun, 1st Aug 2010

Optimum Population Trust at Glastonbury

Ross McCloud, Optimal Population Trust

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Ben -   Lesser known groups also seize the opportunity to get their message out. Ross McCloud from the Optimum Population Trust...

Ross -   The Optimum Population Trust is an organisation established to raise awareness about world population as an environmental issue. We just get the word out there that the world’s population is full to bursting point, encourage contraception, and talking rationally - just having an educated debate about it really.

Ben -   And what do you plan to get out of being at Glastonbury?

Dancers at GlastonburyRoss -   At Glastonbury, we're trying to raise awareness.  We’re offering condoms to all the young people at Glastonbury and trying to avoid unwanted, accidental pregnancies.  But mainly, it’s just making people aware that it is an issue and it’s as big an environmental issue as any other.

Ben -   Offering condoms to people at the festival is a good way to try and avoid, as you say, unwanted pregnancies and possibly some teenage pregnancies, but population issues are a global problem, aren’t they?  It’s not just our population we need to be thinking about?

Ross -   They absolutely are, but what we’re trying to get across to people here is that although the UK has got a birth rate of 1.8, we’re consuming massively more than our own share of the world’s resources.  We produce 35 times as much CO2 as your average Bangladeshi and 160 times as much CO2 as your average Ethiopian.   We need to take our share of the blame and we need to do something about it.

Ben -   As developing countries become more developed, people tend to live longer and their consumption actually goes up.  How can we as a developed nation advise or help developing nations to put a lid on the population before it becomes a problem?

Ross -   Well, as healthcare improves in developing countries, we’d like to educate and empower women so that they understand they don't have to have as many children as they would have beforehand, when many might have died, and encourage them to be in control of their own fertility so that they're responsible for when they get pregnant, and it’s their decision.

Ben -   How do you get around some of the cultural issues that will get in the way of that - very male dominated societies or where you have had traditionally very large families?

Ross -   The major things are to encourage education and empowerment of women.  So, getting women in schools, young girls in schools, getting them a vote, and getting them a good, strong footing in society.


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