CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF SOUTH AFRICA Case No. CCT 23/10 In the Matter Between: THE CITIZEN 1978 (PTY) LIMITED KEVIN KEOGH MARTIN WILLIAMS ANDREW KENNEY and ROBERT JOHN McBRIDE
First Applicant Second Applicant Third Applicant Fourth Applicant Respondent
ON APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF OF LARA JOHNSTONE, MEMBER OF RADICAL HONESTY CULTURE AND RELIGION, IN SUPPORT OF A COMMON SENSE POPULATION POLICY SOCIAL CONTRACT INTERPRETATION OF THE PROMOTION OF NATIONAL UNITY AND RECONCILIATION ACT, 34 OF 1995 Written Statement by Consent of T. Michael Maher, Ph.D, to testify as expert witness for How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection and Media Framing and Salience of the Population Issue
I the undersigned, T. Michael Maher, herewith confirm: I have a Ph.D. in Journalism, from the University of Texas, at Austin; 1995. My Ph.D. dissertation title, Media Framing and Salience of the Population Issue, included (i) The Triumph of Anthropocentrism at World Population Conferences (1999), and (ii) Population: The Once and Future Environmental Crisis (1995). I am the author of the study, How and Why Journalists Avoid the PopulationEnvironment Connection, published in Population and Environment, Volume 18, Number 4, March 1977 I have been the Professor and Head of the Dept. of Communication at the University of Louisiana, since November 1974 (became Head in 2003); Fulbright Professor, at the University of Regensburg, Germany (Sept. ’07 – July ’08). I am aware that my Ph.D dissertation Media Framing and Salience of the Population Issue and report How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection are being submitted into evidence as Common Sense Population Policy Social Contract authorities in this Amicus matter. Should any party dispute any of my statements or conclusions in my aforementioned authorities; I am willing to testify as an expert witness under oath and be cross examined on such issues, on the following conditions:
Addendum by Prof. Maher 1. Population growth remains one of the most serious environmental and social problems for our planet – but not in the ways environmentalists originally predicted. Population first became an alarming world issue during the 1960s and early 1970s, when Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb and the Paddock Brother’s Famine 1975 predicted that population-driven massive famines that would soon kill hundreds of millions of people. Another widely read book of that era, the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth, made similar dire predictions that growing human numbers would soon run out of raw materials crucial to modern life. Thankfully, these predictions failed to materialize. Humanity is an ingenious species. We managed to improve agricultural yields through the Green Revolution, and to find new sources of oil and various other ores crucial to industry (for now, at least). However, population has continued to grow, particularly in the poorest nations. Here population growth has manifested itself in terms of massive loss of wildlife habitat, particularly biodiverse tropical rain forests. E. O. Wilson’s The Diversity of Life predicted in 1992 that we could lose 1/5 of the species on the planet by 2020. Wilson called population growth “the raging monster upon the land.” (p. 328). Population growth has been implicated in promoting water shortages, urban sprawl, global climate change, and most importantly for this court case, massive migration, social stress and resource scarcities that can lead to violence (cf Thomas Homer-Dixon, Environment, Scarcity and Violence). The evidence clearly suggests that population growth is bad policy. But in most countries pressure to change pronatalist or pro-immigration policies is light, which is explained by my next point.
2. In covering population-driven environmental problems, media seldom link the problem to its source in population growth. My own research with three population-driven environmental problems (urban sprawl, water shortages, endangered species) has shown that media coverage of these issues seldom connects the problem with its source in population growth. For example, water shortages are typically ‘framed’ as the result of too little rain rather than too many people. Population is implicated as a cause of these problems only in about 10 percent of media stories, and population stability is almost never mentioned among the range of possible solutions. This noncoverage is not some sort of conspiracy, nor is it malice or obtuseness on the part of reporters. My interviews with reporters revealed that most reporters see population growth as a national or international problem, which is beyond their purview in covering local issues. Another problem is a limited “newshole,” which is the space the newspaper will devote to any given issue. To tie local problems to population growth
would take too many words, reporters told me. Other reporters felt that population is too sensitive and controversial to bring into an environment story. Media Agenda-Setting Theory has shown that the chief variable that propels an issue up or down on the public’s list of most important problems is frequency of coverage. Simply put, the more coverage an issue gets, the more important people think the issue is. The inverse is true. If an issue like population remains ‘invisible’ from lack of coverage, people dismiss population as an issue they should be concerned about. This has certainly happened. Population was one of the top ten “Issues of the Sixties,” according to an Agenda-Setting study by Roy Funkhouser (1973). But since that time population has plummeted as an issue. The Gallup polling agency regularly measures Americans’ top environmental concerns, and population growth is now effectively a nonissue in the United States. However that does not mean population growth does not adversely affect people’s lives; it does. It simply means that people are not as concerned about population growth as they should be. An interesting survey done in 1998 by the Harris polling agency compared expert concern about environmental issues versus public environmental concern. The experts, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, identified population as their number one concern, while the public was completely unconcerned about population. The point is, while population seems to have died as an issue from lack of media coverage, it is still a powerful, negative social and environmental problem.