I had an interesting conversation with one of our local councillors two days ago.

Noosa (the community I live in) has been really innovative and forward thinking and worked out how many people can be sustained by its resources. They looked at water, infrastructure and giving nature enough space.

Taking all this into account, the number of people that Noosa can accommodate was calculated. This figure was called the population cap. It is nothing enforcible by law, not directly anyway, just the number of people who can sustainably live in this shire.

To make sure the population does not grow beyond it, extensive areas were turned into National Park and other reserve areas. The Noosa plan further outlined what type of buildings can be built where, effectively limiting the number of people that can live here.

We have not reached the population cap yet, but it is not too far off and its effects can be seen in the problems with housing affordability.

Anything sustainable needs to be scalable

I posed the following question to our councillor: If what we are doing in Noosa is good, it should be good for our planet. So let us assume that we have worked out the population cap for planet Earth. What happens when that is reached?

His answer was that wars, famine and diseases would take care of that.

Taking this back to Noosa, does this mean we need to set up an army once we are getting close to the population cap? “No, the prices will make a natural selection of who can afford to live here.”

But do we really want that monoculture of people?

Cooperation rather than Competition

I do not think such a fatalist view is a good basis for finding solutions.

Instead we need to look at our assumptions and see whether they still hold true.

  1. The population cap is based on the amount of people our resources can carry.
  2. Technological advancements and smart thinking allow us to achieve more with less resources (just think of rainwater tanks or even using greywater in every household, or using more public transport to avoid gridlock on our roads).

Our population cap is a fantastic way to highlight the challenge of overpopulation. But it should not be used to excuse Noosa from the challenges the world faces.

Our way of life only makes sense when it is shared in a vibrant and varied community, so let us start finding and implementing solutions that are based on cooperation rather than competition.

We were leaders in the past, we need to continue moving to stay leaders in the future.