My Lords, like others, I am very grateful to my noble friend Lady Hayman for introducing this debate in such an excellent way.
What is Covid-19 about? Fundamentally, it is about cutting our numbers. What is climate change about unless we respond to that challenge? It is about cutting the numbers of the world’s population. The issue has not been raised so far in the debate today. As I see it, at the heart of our problem is our human desire to acquire more and get bigger—to multiply and to grow, particularly materially, and as quickly as possible. I think nature is now hitting back.
We have triggered a steep rise in the population of our species; in the last 200,000 years it had barely moved. The Duke of Edinburgh celebrated his near-century birthday yesterday. In 1918, the population of the world was 1.8 billion. It is now 7.8 billion. The projection is that, by 2030, it will be in the order of 8.5 billion, yet scientists tell us that there is no way that the planet can sustain this continued growth. When we went into lockdown, I sent a Written Question asking what the Government are doing to try to restrain the growth in world population and, if possible, reverse it. I had a helpful reply about efforts to assist with contraception in many parts of the world, but we need more than that—much more. Covid-19 is just the first of many hits coming our way unless we address the fundamental issue of trying to bring all the parties together—churches and everyone involved with the growth in population—to seek a change in the direction in which we are going.