Many years ago, a scientist named Paul Ehrlich convinced me of the dangers of uncontrolled population growth. He helped create an organization named Zero Population Growth (ZPG) which called for couples to have no more than two children – the number needed to replace the parents while maintaining the existing population. At the time, the world’s population stood at approximately 3.6 billion.
In 2011, the world population exceeded 7 billion!
Even today, few of the world’s governments have taken serious action to limit population growth. Discounting the effects of our never-ending wars, the exception is the one baby policy instituted by China and Indonesia. By enforcing a policy of one baby per couple, the governments hoped to improve economic conditions for their people while preserving dwindling resources. Although the populations of China and Indonesia have continued to grow, by most accounts, the policy has worked. China claims that 400,000 births have been averted. As a result, it recently announced that it will begin to relax the policy.
It seems that one of the biggest obstacles to population control is the lack of access to contraception. Population Action International estimates that as many as 215 million women around the world who want to prevent pregnancy need contraception. Many of these women are denied access to education and contraceptives by religion. This is even a problem in the Americas, especially Latin America.
That’s because the Vatican and other religious leaders have called for a ban on contraceptives and family planning. (It seems they believe that only God can decide the number of children to be born.) These religions often consider science the enemy of faith. Further, many of the same religions tell us that we have nothing to fear from over-population; that if the Earth is destroyed, the faithful will all end up in heaven. Indeed, some religious leaders are anxiously awaiting the “Rapture.”
The attitudes of politicians and corporations are nearly as bad.
In the US, some conservative politicians are trying to ban access to both contraception and abortion. In addition, many corporations see population control and environmental regulations as threats to sales growth. Any real effort to stop global warming would curb the sales of the oiligarchy. And how would corporations continue the escalation of their share prices if they couldn’t clear-cut forests, extract minerals, pillage our oceans, and create sprawling subdivisions?
Large profits require large populations.
Meanwhile, scientists the world over are screaming about the effects of over-population and the increased burning of fossil fuels. They point to alarming evidence that our environment may soon reach a tipping point. They cite statistics of rising temperatures, rising sea levels and shrinking ice shelves. They warn that lost species are like canaries in the coal mine; that the extinction of such species is a precursor to the extinction of our own.
If none of that alarms you, maybe this video will. The scientist in the video makes one of the most compelling (and frightening) arguments yet.