Climate change — yes, absolutely! There has been climate change ever since creation. Over millions of years, the Earth has been through major climate changes that have had dramatic effects — ice ages, warming, pole shifts, we have had it all.

A prime example is all that oil in the Middle East — oil that is the remnant of once-huge forests, now deserts. Once, the Sahara was a land of rivers, lakes and forests.

Now it is fashionable for some scientists to claim unless we cut our carbon emissions, we will or are already undergoing a massive climate change event that will spell doom for us all.

However, some of the most severe predictions over the past few decades have not materialised. Climate change is happening. It always has, with Mother Nature and the sun the main drivers. Is it man-made? Only time will tell.

But there is a much bigger problem looming. Perhaps the world's eminent scientists and the United Nations would be better to concentrate their dire predictions for Planet Earth on the big elephant in the room — the world's out-of-control population explosion.

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The UN is forecasting that our planet's population will increase from 7.5 billion to 11 billion by 2050 and 13 billion by the end of the century. Imagine the pollution and demand for food, land and water being double what it is now.

The really scary thing is that practically all this population increase will be in so-called Third World poor countries — those that already have massive poverty, inequality, malnutrition and corruption.

The UN says 60 per cent of Africa's population is aged under 24 years and this will increase by 1.3 billion by 2050. Africa imports 25 per cent of its food, so you don't have to be a genius to work out that starvation, war, poverty, unemployment and refugees will increase dramatically.

Big population increases will occur in unprepared or resource-scarce countries such as India, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Indonesia.

The UN report says the more developed nations in Europe, Russia, Japan and New Zealand have birth rates well below sustainable levels. Without immigration, our populations are falling. Producing more food and rehousing refugees will not solve the problem. Those who can least afford it will continue to procreate, exacerbating the problem.

So why don't the UN or world leaders acknowledge that we have a major problem; a population bomb that will cause more immediate damage to our planet than climate change through pollution, destruction of our forests and natural habitats, and exhausting the planet's ability to supply sustainable clean drinking water and food?

Could it be the explosive issue of imposing birth controls is so contrary to some cultural traditions and PC sensitivities that no one dares to plan action to address this urgent problem?

Lifeboat Earth is near full and the waves are getting bigger.

Dave Hill is a Whanganui businessman and Wanganui Ratepayers' Association chairman.