Myths, Misinformation and Misunderstandings
March 23, 2010
Life: It's Killing the Planet.
This opinion piece is way off base. But I present it here to demonstrate what we are sometimes up against.
The thrust of the 2009 report from the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) is: if you really care about the planet, you probably shouldn't have any children to begin with. "The Fund has long believed that more people are a burden, not a boon, to human welfare." The Fund mistakenly claims that too many people consume too many natural resources, or that people prone to having many children are somehow the wrong kind of people.
The Fund argues that humanity itself is destructive. "No human is genuinely 'carbon neutral,' especially when all greenhouse gases are figured into the equation." .. "Therefore, everyone is part of the problem, so everyone must be part of the solution."
"The Fund goes out of its way to shed its image as a eugenics-advocacy group by swapping the term 'population control' for 'population dynamics'." The Fund finds that investments in voluntary family planning and girls' education would also in the long run reduce greenhouse-gas emissions at least as much as the same investments in nuclear or wind energy.
The Fund's report said that avoiding one billion new babies by 2050 would save as much energy as building two million one-megawatt wind turbines.
Also "the use of voluntary family planning directly decreases child mortality." That logic is inarguable: Eliminating life surely is the most expedient way to avoid the problems it brings. Then again, why cure disease if human life itself is a cancer on the planet?
The Omar Bashirs of the world, for instance, could deflect charges of genocide by claiming that they were merely looking out for the environment. It would be just as ridiculous for car makers to dispense with seat-belts - the better to rid the world of drivers of carbon-emitting automobile.
The UNFPA report can be found at http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2009/en/. Comments on the article can to be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Reyerson of Population Media Center responded to this article, saying:
This reaction is a maliciously distorted misreading of the report. The UNFPA report does not support "eliminating life." The UNFPA is not an eugenics-advocacy group. And equating UNFPA to Omar Bashir and genocide is simply reprehensible. The UNFPA report actually said on subject of having fewer children: "What is ethical--and in the long run far more effective than government controls--are policies that enable women and their partners to decide for themselves if and when to have children and to do so in good health." The Wall Street Journal owes UNFPA a massive apology.
Tragically it misreads the challenges posed by population and climate change. Unless women are given the knowledge and the means to prevent unwanted pregnancies, world population is on track to grow by another 2.5 billion people by mid-century, contributing to a soaring, unquenchable demand for food, energy and water, and escalating harm to the world's climate and environment. The column even suggests that we should increase birth rates so that someone will be born to produce a "cure for cancer or HIV." What the world really needs now is a cure for reflexive stupidity of the kind exemplified by this column.
Karen Gaia says: If the WSJ can be so off on this topic, how can I trust its accuracy on any other topic?
November 20, 2009
Wall Street Journal
U.S.: Glenn Beck Claims Science Czar John Holdren Proposed Forced Abortions and Putting Sterilants in the Drinking Water to Control Population
Glenn Beck said on his July 22, 2009 radio talk show said: "I mean, we've got czars now," Beck said during his July 22, 2009, program. "Czars like John Holdren, who has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population." John Holdren is the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Thirty years ago Holdren co-authored with Paul and Annie Ehrlich a book called "Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment." In a section of the book on "Involuntary Fertility Control," the authors discuss various "coercive" means of population control - including putting sterilants in the drinking water.
"The third approach to population limitation is that of involuntary fertility control. Several coercive proposals deserve discussion, mainly because some countries may ultimately have to resort to them unless current trends in birth rates are rapidly reversed by other means." But the authors stop well short of advocating such measures.
"...Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control. Indeed, this would pose some very difficult political, legal, and social questions, to say nothing of the technical problems. No such sterilant exists today, nor does one appear to be under development. ..."
"...Unforeseen side effects would, in our opinion, militate against the use of any such agent, even though this plan has the advantage of avoiding the need for socioeconomic pressures that might tend to discriminate against particular groups or penalize children."
"...Compulsory control of family size is an unpalatable idea, but the alternatives may be much more horrifying. As those alternatives become clearer to an increasing number of people in the 1980s, they may begin demanding such control. A far better choice, in our view, is to expand the use of milder methods of influencing family size preferences, while redoubling efforts to ensure that the means of birth control, including abortion and sterilization, are accessible to every human being on Earth within the shortest possible time."
"... For example, under the United States Constitution, effective population-control programs could be enacted under the clauses that empower Congress to appropriate funds to provide for the general welfare and to regulate commerce, or under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such laws constitutionally could be very broad. Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society. Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however."
The authors advocate making abortions readily accessible for women who want to get them. But they never advocate forced abortions. There is a big difference.
Holdren's office issued this statement: "The quotations used to suggest that Dr. Holdren supports coercive approaches to limiting population growth were taken from a 1977 college textbook on environmental science and policy, of which he was the third author. The quoted material was from a section of the book that described different possible approaches to limiting population growth and then concluded that the authors' own preference was to employ the noncoercive approaches before the environmental and social impacts of overpopulation led desperate societies to employ coercive ones. Dr. Holdren has never been an advocate of compulsory abortions or other repressive means of population limitation."
Annie and Paul Ehrlich, the co-authors, also made a statement: "We have been shocked at the serious mischaracterization of our views and those of John Holdren in blog posts based on misreadings of our jointly-authored 1000-page 1977 textbook, ECOSCIENCE. We were not then, never have been, and are not now 'advocates' of the Draconian measures for population limitation described -- but not recommended."
June 29, 2009
U.S.: Abortion and the Echo of Eugenics.
This article needs a rebuttle. There is no doubt that you can find enough racists in this country, of varying opinions, to prove, using 'guilt by association' the invalidity of any cause, any issue. Most racists approve of breathing air, so is it racist to breath air?
President Richard Nixon said the day after the 1973 Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision "There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white," he explained. "Or rape."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said recently: "Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."
Populations that we don't want to have too many of - who would those be, exactly? Minorities? The poor? The handicapped?
Ginsburg's words recall the now-rarely-mentioned obsession with eugenics and the elimination of 'undesirables - that animated so many supporters of legal abortion and the birth-control movement.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes supported the 1927 Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell, which upheld the right of state governments to forcibly sterilize "feebleminded" citizens, saying "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough."
Margaret Sanger, founder of the precursor of Planned Parenthood, in her 1922 "The Pivot Of Civilization," called for "immediate, stern, and definite" action to solve the "problem of the feeble-minded and the menace of the moron" - those she regarded as the "dead weight of human waste." She opposed providing free medical care to "slum mothers," Sanger was not a racist in her personal life, but there is no denying the racial aspect of her campaign. In 1939, for example, she launched a "Negro Project" aimed at curtailing black childbirth in the South.
In 1993, Ron Weddington, co-counsel for the appellants in Roe, wrote President-elect Bill Clinton in January 1993, challenging him to "start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country" - not through "some sort of mass extinction," but with massive birth control and abortion. "Condoms alone won't do it . . . Government is also going to have to provide vasectomies, tubal ligations, and abortion . . .. We don't need more poor babies."
More than half of all black pregnancies in America end in abortion. Surely that wasn't what Justice Ginsburg meant by "populations that we don't want to have too many of." Or was it?
Karen Gaia says: the author, while building on a small kernel of truth (that there are a few racists supporting lower birth rates, and that there were more ignorant, bigoted attitudes in the early part of the 20th century) overlooks the fact that people actually want to reduce their family size and that abortion is one way to do it. Contraception is another. Poor people are often targeted because they can least afford that which they want: to have smaller families so that they can survive economically. And .. One-half of pregnancies amoung American women are unintended. The abortion rate could be higher among blacks because of lower contraception rates and perhaps because of bad timing for having a baby due to a poor economic situation.
July 26, 2009
Pro-Choice Human Rights Activists Call Chinese Abortion Practices Torture.
Panelists for the US Commission on China said the policy of controlling population by forcing women to have abortions constitutes torture, saying that "The violence and coercion would fit into the definition of torture." The Universal Periodic Review, is a peer-review and non-enforceable, conducted by the U.N. Human Rights Council, of which the U.S. is not a member.
Karen Gaia says: China has been leaning more and more towards voluntary family planning, which has been shown to be more successful. However, even though China often practices 'tortorous' practices, it will be even worse to allow nature to react by malnutrition and starvation when population growth is not curtailed. I think people have already forgotten China's big famine.
January 19, 2009
Book Review: Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population .. by Matthew Connelly.
The central thesis of this book is that population growth is not the problem because access to voluntary contraception and abortion has successfully put the brakes on growth. But the population is still growing and is likely to grow another 50% this century.
The author writes without addressing the finite availability of natural resources, the role of religious & cultural superstitions in fighting voluntary population control, and the reduced standard of living people will face under overpopulation.
One of the problems of our massive population is the current loss of biodiversity. The book shows no understanding of ecological carrying capacity or the fact that critical fertiliser resources like phosphorus or potash (potassium) have a very limited supply. Author Connelly's solution for stabilizing population growth ignores the inability to provide anything more than a poverty-ridden, subsistence existence for the bulk of humanity at past let alone future population levels. And he overlooks how dogma plays into opposition to voluntary family planning.
December 25, 2008
Global: From Greed to Green.
A global financial meltdown should be the opportunity to move from "greed economics" toward a global green economy. But if the global economy is weaned from "make money from the movement of money" and shift it to the creation of new technologies, innovative materials and industrial products that meet energy needs and address eco-efficiencies — then there is hope for economic renewal, and a chance to curb global warming. Countries with powerful reserves could well finance "greener" infrastructure projects. This would ignite growth in the "real economy" of production and human invention. Just think what a hundred billion dollars can do to repair damaged ecosystems, restore biodiversity loss, curb pollution, support technological innovations and renewable energy use, and put in place mitigation measures for climate change. Global capitalism has led to the crisis of overproduction, the buildup of productive capacity that outruns capacity to consume. The financial economy of speculation has only exacerbated volatilities in the world economy, and have added to the ruin of fresh water, clean air, the seas, forests and land.
This crisis should move economic planning toward the locating of sustainability and new green technologies at the center of business strategy and government policy. This requires folding environmental stewardship into corporate culture and the running of businesses and calls for more effective global governance. Governments and civil society actors will have to take larger roles, and the self-correcting nature of free markets will require serious revisiting.
Karen Gaia says: In this article there is no mention of overpopulation and family planning! All gains from technological innovation and conservation of resources will be wiped out by population growth in the end.
October 04, 2008
Response to The Economist on their review of Matthew Connelly's Fatal Misconception: the Struggle to Control World Population.
As a former director of USAID's international family planning program I feel obliged to take issue with Connelly's book, and your review, as follows.
Connelly blames well intentioned but misguided Western elites for imposing on developing countries a population control agenda. Yet, the vast majority of programs in developing countries are based on voluntarism. As hundreds of surveys have shown these programs responded to a demand, mostly from women, to have the means to control their own fertility. Most countries responded with policies of voluntary family planning, and improved girls education; and advance the status, rights, and employment of women. A tiny minority of Asian countries violated these principles and India and China, are indeed, very large. But it is misleading to condemn an entire movement because of the missteps of a few.
There have been violations of reproductive rights, but it's been the developing countries who've perpetrated them. The international community has attempted to persuade these governments to suspend such policies. It is wrong to blame the international population for the excesses that occurred. In Connelly's treatment of this subject there is a condescension toward the developing world, as if they were the dupes of Western prescriptions. In fact, the family planning success in Thailand, Bangladesh, and earlier Korea and Taiwan, were developed and implemented by committed local leaders.
Finally, there is the assertion, endorsed by your reviewer, that the family planning programs made hardly any difference in affecting birthrates. Connelly derives this conclusion from a widely disputed article by economist Lant Pritchett that has been refuted by every leading expert who has examined the program. While Pritchett asserted, and Connelly accepts, that only 5% of the decline in fertility can be explained by these programs, every other analyst concludes that 40% to 60% of the decline was contributed by family planning programs that responded to a demand by couples, women in particular, to limit the number of children they bore.
Connelly has revisited in detail the dark corners of a highly successful movement to bring about population stabilization in a world where human numbers are growing at an unsustainable rate. It is regrettable that he has placed the most negative interpretation on this complex history and has violated the the search for truth through the assessment of historical data.
Karen Gaia says: it would help if the author did not call voluntary family planning 'population control'. It has very negative and misleading connotations that might lead someone like Connelly to his mistaken perceptions. I think it is important for WOA!!s readers to know that there is a large number of people that think like Connelly and it is up to us to persuade them that voluntarty family planning is very important. All we need is for it to be more adequately funded.
The Chinese: From Yellow Peril to Green Peril?.
The reaction of Victorian Britain to pollution in the Thames was to construct one of the biggest civil engineering projects at that time, London's sewerage system. It also provided an impetus to the development of the germ theory of disease. The problems that China has with pollution are viewed in a cautious way. China's population is so large, and its economy growing so fast, it makes the anxiety even greater. Instinctively, the reaction is that China should curb its development rather than find bold solutions to its problems. The possibility that China could become a fully industrialised and urbanised society, with living standards akin to those in the West, has become the ultimate environmentalist nightmare. The ‘green peril'.
As a consequence, economic growth is also viewed in a one-sided way. There is an over-emphasis on the problems that it can create. The fact that growth can lead to a better life for the mass of the population is virtually forgotten. And the capacity of a growing, more prosperous society to solve the problems that are thrown up by its growth is also neglected.
The key problems are discussed in the Western media and within China. The most authoritative is the 2007 report produced by the World Bank and China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). A combination of heavy coal use and a transportation boom are said to be devastating China's air quality. China's heavy use of water for agricultural, domestic and industrial use is said to be leading to dwindling supplies. Water is becoming increasingly polluted. Much of the country's land is turning into desert.
Sulphur dioxide emissions from coal use are leading to an increase in the acidity of rain. Agricultural land is being damaged and buildings eroded.
Not only is China blamed for using vast quantities of natural resource, it is also said to be a substantial contributor to global warming.
The common conclusion is that it would be better for the planet if China simply stopped growing. The Western fossil-fuel-based, auto-centered, throwaway economy is not going to work for China and will not work for India. Nor will it work for the three billion other people in developing countries who are also dreaming the "American dream".
One of the leading Western experts on China's environment has argued explicitly that China needs to sacrifice economic growth in favour of environmental protection. Beijing's message to local officials continues to be that economic growth cannot be sacrificed to environmental protection, the two objectives must go hand in hand. Curbing growth is probably the worst thing that China could do right now. Welfare benefits of growth.
China has gone from a society where the vast majority were dirt poor and rural to one that is more urbanised and wealthy today. Life expectancy has risen by several years. Infant mortality has halved.
From these few statistics it should be clear that China has made enormous strides forward during the period of rapid economic growth. Extreme poverty including the scourge of famine is a thing of the past. Problems remain. China's widening inequalities are real, but absolute living standards have risen.
China needs to develop a lot more to be as rich as the West. Nevertheless, the Chinese economy has taken positive steps and the welfare of the Chinese people has improved as a result.
There is a common misconception that the more an economy industrialises the more polluted it becomes. But what happens is that as a society becomes richer, it also builds up more resources to deal with its environmental problems.
China can go through such a transition. More modern factories can reduce air pollution considerably. Cleaner energy can play a positive role. And technologies such as desalination can overcome any water shortages.
But the price of business as usual, including the effects of global warming on China itself, strikes many of its own experts and some senior officials as intolerably high.
On the contrary, the more rapidly China develops, the more resources it will have with which to tackle pollution. Much clean technology has already been invented, and China can utilise this.
The argument about China using up the world's resources is also misplaced. No doubt if China to Western levels, it will use many resources. But it is likely that, for several reasons, new resources will emerge to replace those that are used up.
As countries develop they tend to become more efficient: Fewer resources are needed for each unit of output. New sources of raw materials tend to be found, as resources are used up, this provides an impetus for more exploration. If a resource is becoming scarce it is often the case that a substitute resource can be found.
Perhaps the least understood point is that new resources emerge as society becomes more developed. Things that were not resources in the past become resources as a result of economic and technological development. Economic development has thrown up substantial environmental problems for China. Economic growth has brought higher living standards and enormous welfare benefits for the Chinese people. It should also provide an environmental transition in which the environment is reshaped to benefit its inhabitants.
The portrayal of China as a threat to the global environment, a ‘green peril', is a reflection of the West's anxieties rather than an accurate description of contemporary Chinese society.
Ralph says: I wonder where he got his "rose colored spectacles"?? This is the biggest load of rubbish I have read in years.
Karen Gaia says: The author assumes that the Chinese Govt is backward and does not have access to the latest technology. This is hogwash. Most developing countries use leapfrog technologies which has allowed them to develop faster than developed countries did, except that development is subject to the limitations of per capita resources when overpopulation is the case. In addition, look at the technology of developed countries. In some cases it has kept up, but in the case of energy and water, it has not, and we are about to see the effects of a too slow technology. A third point to consider is that it takes a high per capita wealth to own the latest technology. That is something most developing countries lack.
March 10, 2008
Israel;: Arab Births Down, Jewish Births Up: No Demographic Threat.
The demographic balance in the Land of Israel is not a threat to the Jewish majority; predictions of Arab population growth have been grossly overstated, with Jewish birthrates in pre-1967 Israel consistently increasing and Arab birthrates consistently dropping.
The claim that Jews are doomed to become a minority is in direct contradiction of demographic reality. Such a claim has yielded demographic fatalism, which has dominated Israel. It has become a basis for critical security decisions. However, demographic fatalism has been nurtured by erroneous assumptions.
In demographic information made public the decline in Arab fertility rates within the 1967 borders exceeded the ICBS's own predictions by 20 years. The latest ICBS statistics show a Jewish fertility rate that is higher than the ICBS's most generous forecasts.
According to the study, the Jewish birthrate has increased from 2.6 to 2.8 from 1996 to 2006. During the same period, Muslim Arabs have seen a drop in birthrates from 4.7 to 4.0.
Since 1948, the ICBS has tended to under-project Jewish fertility, over-project Arab fertility, ignore the scope of Arab emigration and minimize the scope of potential immigration.
A World Bank study revealed a gap between the predictions of population growth and the actual numbers of children registered for first grade. There had been an 8% drop as of September 2006 in the number of children registered for school through fifth grade. This was in opposition to the forecast of a 24% increase.
The projections published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) have been refuted, annually, by the Palestinian ministries of health and education and election commission.
November 20, 2007
Israeli National News
$1 Trillion to the Rescue.
There's an emergency and an opportunity that calls for The Next Trillion.
It's about the need for global economic institutions to evolve in response to the social and environmental challenges of our time: growth in population, accelerating technological change, accelerating capital flows, growth in consumption, increasing pollution, widening wealth gaps.
Today's global economy drives China to add 65 gigawatts to its electric grid each year, most of which from polluting coal-fired power plants.
The financial returns of the 20th century depended upon environmental and social trends that are unsustainable. We must begin to move, in a new direction.
The good news is that out of the current quagmire arises an opportunity for America to leap into a new era of economic leadership.
Here's how The Next Trillion should be invested:
â€˘$250 billion for clean energy and energy efficiency;
â€˘ $250 billion for carbon sequestration and bioremediation;
â€˘ $250 billion for sustainable food and forests; and
â€˘ $250 billion for community development.
A tectonic shift is occurring in the consciousness of the consumer, the entrepreneur, and the investor.
We must seize the opportunity to accelerate the transition to a full-fledged restorative economy, in which jobs, wealth, and economic vitality are created by enterprises that restore and preserve the common good.
We have begun to see entrepreneurs whose companies are leading the way toward the restorative economy. Farmers Diner: building new, local connections between organic-food producers and consumers. Verdant Power: pioneering submersible turbines for tidal electricity generation. United Villages: providing wireless internet access for villages in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
REdeploying money as an agent of community and bioregional health is the next great work.
Let us set our mind to The Next Trillion.
Deployed with vision and courage, it will unleash forces of reconstruction, restoration, and healing, the likes of which the world has never seen.
Ralph says: Money will not generate clean power or more food. NOT A WORD about reducing the demand on the worlds resources, --- just let money do the job --- fooey. Karen Gaia says: better to spend the money to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies.
November 14, 2007
Christian Science Monitor
Population and Its Discontents.
Note from editor: we publish this as an example of some of the misinformation that is spread about. This deserves LTEs to the Economist...
Our correspondents are moving with the spirit of the times. Al Gore, argues that "an overcrowded world is inevitably a polluted one." The Sierra Club argues that "population growth, global warming and consumption patterns are linked in their global environmental impact." The UN has espoused a "universally accepted aim of stabilising world population."
But is it really desirable? Obviously, there is environmental degradation; and if there were no people and no industry, plants and animals would of course be better off. But you do not find the link between population growth and environmental degradation. Between 1990 and 2002, carbon emissions in poor countries rose less than 2% a year; per person, they were flat. These were the parts of the world with the highest population growth. During the same period, carbon emissions in rich countries rose from 11.8 tonnes per person per year to 12.8 tonnes. The rich world not only produces the most carbon 16 times as much per person as in poor countries; it is also the area with the lowest population growth. On some measures, countries with slow-growing populations make a bigger contribution to global warming than fast-growing ones.
There are poor, densely populated places whose environments are degraded. There are rich overcrowded ones, which are doing a lot to improve their environments. And among sparsely populated places, there are poor, middle-income and rich countries. This is not to deny that, in particular places, population pressures cause environmental problems. But across the board, it is harder to establish a close link between the two. And the moral is, people can lighten their carbon footprint and reduce the damage they do. You don't have to get rid of the people to get rid of the footprint.
Karen Gaia says: The Economist bases their conclusion on per person figures, neglecting to multiply per capita numbers by sheer numbers of people. This magazine overlooked the impact from China which is now surpassing that of the U.S. They also must have left out from their calculations the emissions from coal, methane, and agricultural burning. SHAME ON THE ECONOMIST! A magazine that I used to respect.
September 22, 2007
U.K.;: Land Use, Not Population, Should Be Our Priority.
David Nicholson-Lord of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT) says the environmental movement is failing to address human population growth. But the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) exists to protect the countryside by encouraging the sustainable use of land. Consumption and numbers matter and if a consumer is absent - that is, unborn -then so is his or her consumption.
That is, an odd way of saying it. The CPRE agrees that it matters how we use land and how many of us use it. But the real reason the CPRE doesn't campaign on population is that we can do far more to influence the "how" than the "how many". Use of brownfield land is up from 56% in 1997 to 74% last year; and, since the 1990s, housing densities have risen from an unsustainable 20-25 dwellings per hectare to a more sustainable 40. We have a growing population, but we are using our land more wisely.
A population of 30 million would do huge damage to the environment if the government pursued economic growth at all costs. A population of more than 70 million can be accommodated if we use resources wisely.
We are faced with new roads and airports, and a government intent on economic growth over the environment. But we see urban renaissance, better farming practices and new national parks, which we want to encourage. If environmental groups can put sustainability and a respect for environment at its heart - changes to population policy may well follow.
Karen Gaia says: the CPRE seems ignorant about how easy it is to influence the "how many", and would rather risk guessing that are they right that a doubling of the population could be accomodated if only we did this and this and this, than take a good look a population solutions. In other words, (Ralph says), population growth is not a good topic if we want to stay popular, so let's hide the facts.
July 19, 2007
Rupert Walder Considers Refocusing on Population.
At the beginning of July, the UK-based Optimum Population Trust published a report about the escalating population problem around the globe. It said that we need to act quickly to prevent overpopulation. Those who continue to place obstacles in the way of women who want to control their fertility will have only themselves to blame, as more and more regimes bring in coercive measures.
It is time for reproductive health and rights advocates to be using the dreaded "p" word again? It may be a necessary compromise in order to reach out to the real policy makers around the globe who continue to take a not very political, interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights as a development issue. If we want sexual and reproductive health and rights on the development agenda, we should be using terms that matter to the architects of development. During a decade or two's experience working in the communications offices for a number of reproductive health organizations, I was regularly reminded never to mention population. The fear was that we would be painted as "population controllers". Globally, the stakes are getting a too high to worry about criticism from minority groups, and it may be time for sexual and reproductive health organizations and activists to work with the allies that they have, rather than in fear of detractors. A little bit of pragmatism and lateral thinking would not go amiss to spread the word a little further.
Karen Gaia says: The problem is that some people tend to not listen when the word sustainability is used. If we don't maintain a sustainable population, nature will do it for us. Most governments understand this and, fortunately, try to attain a sustainable population by voluntary family planning, sex ed, reproductive health, and access to contraception.
July 27, 2007
RH Reality Check
The Next Added 100 Million Americans - Part 17.
By Frosty Wooldridge As America adds the next 100 million people by 2040, how will cities survive its projected 20 million added people? On tiny Easter Island, humans ignored nature, cut down all the trees, built 50 ton rock monuments and died of overpopulation via starvation. Today, we're faced with the same dilemmas. We already have 3.5 million homeless in America. We cannot have too many people alive simultaneously lest we destroy carrying capacity and reduce the number of lives possible in subsequent time periods.
Capitalism's drive for production and consumption knows no bounds. If allowed, it would, like a cancer cell, multiply production until it kills its host.
You can't keep red-lining a four cylinder engine to create more energy. You will, in the end, blow up the engine. The prevailing model of growth assumes that there are no limits on the expanding of supplies, land and resources, have been dropped.
Current economic growth has uncoupled itself from the world and has become irrelevant. If we bet on growing our population by adding 100 million and then, another 100 million, what if the hypothesis that technology will save us turns out wrong? As our population adds 100 million in three decades, there's no escape for any of us.
Looking at China and India today, history is repeating itself. India maintains no Population Policy while expected to grow from 1.1 billion to 1.55 billion by 2050. China forces one child families, but they expect to grow from 1.3 billion to 1.5 billion. Bangladesh continues growing at breakneck speed. All three countries face crippling environmental dilemmas and human suffering on a scale we can't imagine.
Of the next added 100 million people in America 67 million will be immigrants from Third World countries.
I talked to my cab driver from Bangladesh who had immigrated to the USA in 1990. I asked him about his country's population. He said it sickened him so much that he would not go back. I asked him why? He said his Muslim religion encouraged every woman to have as many children as possible. I noted that his country exceeded its carrying capacity and that such massive population overload would destroy any hope of 'quality of life' and decent 'standard of living.'
â€śWhy not practice family planning?â€ť I asked.
â€śIt would go against Allah's wishes,â€ť he said.
â€śBut it creates such human misery,â€ť I said.
â€śOne must not go against Allah's wishes,â€ť he replied.
â€śHow many kids do you have?â€ť I asked, in frustration.
â€śSeven with one on the way,â€ť he said, proudly.
â€śHow many do you expect to have?â€ť I asked, calmly.
â€śThat is for Allah to decide,â€ť he said.
His story is a glaring example why Third World immigrants continue large families they immigrate to First World countries.
In May 2006, our U.S. Senate voted to change legal immigration from 1.0 to 2.0 million annually, increase chain migration and work visas. We will become the receiving ground for 67 million immigrants.
Karen Gaia says: While the author is correct that the U.S. cannot handle an ever increasing population, it is not true that the Bangladeshi taxi driver represented the typical person in Bangladesh, where the fertiltiy rate is a little less than three. At that rate, women are obviously planning some kind of family planning, despite the fact that it is a Muslim country. See the Green Umbrella Campaign at http://www.green-umbrella.net/
January 18, 2007
Opinion: Population Decline is Bad for Us.
Fertility rates around the world are slowing, and by 2080 world population will peak somewhere in the vicinity of nine billion before contracting.
Population-control proponents claim variously that:
* We do not have the food to sustain higher populations. * Our planet already suffers from overcrowding. * The environmental impact will bring catastrophe either through pollution or consumption of finite natural resources. * Decreased population will lead to higher wages and a better quality of life.
These arguments do not withstand scrutiny.
The availability of food has greatly increased, even with growing population. Population increase fosters agricultural innovation, which, spurs leaps in production. Overcrowding? This is a problem of density, not population. There's plenty of land available out there. Environmentalists claim that the Earth has a finite supply of resources but markets and human innovation stepped in to provide greater efficiency.
More population means more creators and producers, both of goods and of new knowledge and inventions.
All things being equal, population increase leads to increased per capita production.
There is no precedent in human history for economic growth on declining human capital.
There is good reason to believe population decline wll be bad for us. Innovation will suffer. Areas depopulated or in the process of losing population have almost always been characterized by backward economies.
The supposed benefits of population decline are a mirage. The real question is whether falling populations will lead Western civilization to something like the fall of Rome.
One Last Thing - Would a Drop in Population Be a Positive Or a Negative?.
Fertility rates are dropping while population continues to increase. By 2080, world population will peak at approximately nine billion. There is a school of thought that argues that smaller populations are good. Decreased population will lead to higher wages and a better quality of life as supplies exceed demands.
These arguments do not withstand scrutiny.
Ehrlich wrote that, in the face of expanding populations, "the world will undergo famines - hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death."
Instead, the availability of food has increased, even with growing population. Famine, has become a matter of fair distribution, not of inadequate supply.
Population increase fosters agricultural innovation, which, spurs leaps in production. Everywhere you go today, you find traffic jams and sprawl, but this is a problem of density, not population. There's plenty of land available out there.
Markets and human innovation stepped in to provide greater efficiency.
For instance, in 1850, you needed an average of 4.6 tons of petroleum equivalent to produce $1,000 of goods and services. By 1950, you needed only 1.8 tons, and, by 1978, 1.5 tons. More population means more creators and producers, both of goods along established production patterns and of new knowledge and inventions."
All things being equal, population increase leads to increased per capita production.
Between A.D. 200 and 600, population shrank from 257 million to 208 million. It took 400 more years for the population to recover. There is no precedent in human history for economic growth on declining human capital.
There is good reason to believe population decline will be bad for us. Innovation will suffer and economies contract.
The supposed benefits of population decline are a mirage. The real question is whether falling populations will lead Western civilization to something like the fall of Rome.
Ralph says: The author should open his eyes to the millions who are already dying for want of food. Karen Gaia says: The author seems totally unaware of the limits of the supply of resources, particularly water, soil, and oil.
November 26, 2006
Philadelphia Inquirer (US)
Mexico: Condoms Are Not a Cure-all.
Researchers report that adding condoms and emergency contraception to a sex-education program in a group of public high schools in central Mexico had no effect on the youngster's sex lives.
A year after the program, the students were just as likely to engage in sex as before according to the nearly 11,000 participants. Overall, there was no difference in the condom-using habits, nor were they more, or less, likely to have sex.
The students were divided into groups before the study began to see which intervention would be most effective.
Young men in the condom groups who were sexually active were more likely to use the prophylactics with casual partners or if they paid money to have sex. The number of sexually active young women who reported having a partner who was five or more years older also increased from 23% in the control group to 31% in the condoms-plus-contraception group.
It looks as if teaching kids about HIV, condoms and contraception increases their knowledge about AIDS but doesn't necessarily get them to change their sexual habits. Access to condoms does not make them any more likely to have sex.
May 19, 2006
Africa and Population Control.
Our society in Africa is plunged into quagmire. One of such issues is birth control. Governments have made efforts to curb its effect on the human society, characterising the Third World Nations. The First World Countries, in their effort to deal with the matter, are doing everything by seeking to eliminate 'yet unborn' in the African Continent and the Asia. Among the Africans, a child is preferable to wealth, because a child is greater than money. To the African, a host of well-mobilised people achieve more than a handful of people. The west is aware of this, and here lies their political motives to depopulate Africa. Among Westerners, there are shouts of population explosion in the developing countries. Donors often tag population control to their aid packages irrespective of the African values. To seek to help a people by eliminating their most cherished value is to start on a wrong foot. For the African, wealth is reckoned in terms of human persons and life. Unless one understands the African concept one will not appreciate the violence to which the African culture is subjected in the name of foreign aid. Western hegemony dealt the African culture a fatal blow under colonialism and continues to make sure that the victim does not survive. How does one explain that after having deported a significant percentage of Africa's population in the name of slave trade, engineered HIV/AIDS on the black race, degraded our environment by way of industrial waste disposal in African regions, emitted carbon compounds such as Chlorofluorocarbons which cause depletion of the ozono-sphere resulting in global warming with its attendant greenhouse effect, anthrax and cataract in Africa, they still fight tooth and nail to depopulate Africa further by insisting on artificial population control. While the West clone human beings to the tune of 200,000 annually, pre-natal genocide is prescribed for Africa. The funds for population control should be diverted to improving agriculture and proper utilisation of maiden forest, which the African continent is replete with. Foreign aids should come in the form of meaningful transfer to improve the living standard of the African. The same people who seem resolved to help Africans, refuse Africans meaningful technological transfer only to secretly dump toxic waste and counterfeit and fake drugs on the very Africans they purport to aid.
While the West may be to blame for global warming, the writer seems to be unaware of the effects of a large population on the very sustainability of people of Africa. No amount of aid will overcome the problems that will result from too many people.
December 17, 2005
The Tide (Nigeria)
Chinese Immigrants Continue to Boost Hong Kong Population.
Migrants from mainland China continued to boost Hong Kong's population, adding 45,800. Natural growth among citizens in the six months to June was just 15,200, or 0.22% over the period last year. With workers settling from across the border, the population rose 61,000 to 6.94 million, an increase of 0.9% over the first half of 2004. The city recorded 38,000 deaths and 53,200 births. Hong Kong has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. Officials fear the trend downwards will put pressure on a shrinking workforce to provide security for the growing number of elderly and prompted Hong Kong's political leader Donald Tsang to call on couples to have at least three babies. The government has forecast that the continued influx of Chinese immigrants will swell the population to 8.38 million by 2033.
Some people think earth's resources are unlimited.
August 16, 2005
From Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post Carbon World.
The world's environmental, anti-war, anti-globalization, and human rights organizations - the Movement - has a primary interest in dispersing power and wealth; preventing war and countering political repression; and in protecting the ecosystem. Unfortunately, the tide of history is currently moving the other way. The Movement's response is to push harder, while maintaining the moral high ground. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King confronted entrenched patterns and by perseverance, moral example and persuasion, and they prevailed. There is a blind spot, however -resource and population issues are not dealt with because Movement leaders are vulnerable to constraints that prevent them from coming to grips with the fundamental facts. Lacking formal political power, only the support of the masses can give the Movement potency. Various issue organizations of the Movement should work together, presenting a united front, but these organizations have diverging interests. Human rights workers deal with repression and atrocity but with a few exceptions are disinclined to take a long view with regard to population and resource issues. The population issue is problematic from a human-rights perspective, because no one has been able to envision a way of reducing the human population over the next few decades without compromising the right to reproduce. This is problematic for environmental organizations who should be talking about the central problem of our era - the carrying capacity for humans has been exceeded on this earth: every basic means of life-support appears to be in the beginning stages of collapse. The depletion of fossil fuels will put much more pressure on the ability to sustain a large human population. More population growth means more poverty and more misery. Many ecologists know that peace, cooperation, equity, and justice are most easily realized in a condition in which population is low relative to the available resources. Population reduction is hard to sell to the general public. The simple distribution of birth-control devices and information is already problematic because of pressures from the Catholic Church and political reactionaries. Even population "stabilization" is downplayed. To speak of an actual reduction of human population is unspeakable, at least in polite company. The Movement also soft-pedals per-capita resource consumption. A mere 500 richest people control as much wealth as the poorer half of humanity. Human impact on the environment is not measured by population levels but by population multiplied by per-capita resource consumption. We must both reduce population and per-capita resource usage. But North Americans tend to think of their life as non-negotiable and it is North Americans and Europeans who provide most of the funding for the Movement's various organizations. And so the acceptable prescription from the Movement's organizations tends to be, raise living standards in poor countries. This benign-sounding strategy goes by the name "development," but development has meant turning poor nations into shabby imitations of rich ones, while undermining traditional subsistence agriculture. The resulting urban centers will likely be sites of human tragedy in the decades ahead. What is needed is the systematic and intelligent de-industrialization. The reality is that no country will be able to maintain a quasi-American lifestyle for its citizens past the first or second decade of this century. People in the poorer countries resent being told that they will never enjoy the comforts that Americans and Europeans take for granted.
June 21, 2005
Population: Is it a Boom Or a Bust?.
After 2070, world depopulation is likely to set in, and the question is with what consequences. The fear is that there will not be enough people to produce the goods to support themselves, much less maintain the elderly or a school system. To maintain the present number of people, each woman must, have 2.1 children. The worldwide rate has dropped to 1.85. The Potential Support Ratio or PSR is the number of those 15-64 , divided by those 65 and over. In 1950, the world PSR was 12/1, there were 12 workers to support each old person. By 2050, the PSR will be 5/1, the U.S. will be 3/1, the EU 2/1, and Japan 1.5/1. This is affecting American society as immigrants flow in and jobs flow out. The rewards for not having children are designed into our industrial society. Children can't work on the farm, and middle-class kids cost about $200,000, plus college, to raise. The young have to study and prepare for work into their child-bearing years and often, the clock runs out. Immigration won't solve the problem; productivity might. To maintain the 3/1 PSR would require 10 million immigrants annually. Or to maintain our standard of living would require a productivity increase of almost 50% by 2070. An improvement in productivity is almost certain. A 3% annual increase, well within forecasts, will mean that in 2055 workers will produce three times the amount they can today. The shrinking population will profoundly affect the family, community, workplace and political institutions. The debate is about immigration and jobs or about Social Security and financing the care of the aging. Social Security is a minor technical problem of how to distribute income. What we do in the face of falling births is far more serious and cuts to the heart of all of our values.
"The fear is that there will not be enough people to produce the goods to support themselves"??? ... So does it follow that MORE people will be able to support themselves, given the world's limited resources? ... "The worldwide rate has dropped to 1.85???" ... The author seems to have dropped off the whole developing world. ... "A 3% annual increase .. will mean that .. workers will produce three times the amount they can today." ... He's assuming the workers won't consume anything - ??? This piece was included in WOA!! to show the ignorance that we are up against.
June 18, 2005
The Lebanon Daily News (Pennsylvania)
The following quotes (in red) are simply not true.
"Reproductive health" always a code word for abortion
Barbara Becker and Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute
This is a hard one to answer since it is so obviously wrong. First of all, it implies that people who believe that there is a population problem have a hidden agenda. Most population groups adhere to the Cairo+5 policy agreed upon by 179 nations and thousands of non-governmental agencies (including most population groups).
They believe that family planning should be voluntary and should be integrated with reproductive health matters such as HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, infant mortality, breastfeeding, natural child-spacing, female genital mutilation, and so on. They also believe that good family planning reduces abortions.
"The population movement targets dark-skinned people for population control"
This is not true. It is like the "When did you stop beating your wife?" question.
a) The vast majority of the population movement objects to the words 'population control'; they are more for voluntary family planning. After all, 1/3 of the population growth in the world is the result of incidental or unwanted pregnancies.
b) The population movement is interested particularly in countries where the population growth is above the replacement rate of 2 children per family. As it turns out, many European countries and US caucasians have a replacement rate of 1.9 or lower, but there is little intention of targeting people of any color. Developing countries with fast growing populations need help, not control, for economic reasons, environmental reasons, and for sustainability which cannot be maintained if burgeoning populations outstrip their resources.
Living heavily on the Earth - Interviews with John Bongaarts, Joel E. Cohen, and Allan Rosenfield. "Lots of people don't have the means of controlling their own fertility that they would like to have."
"The world doesn't have a population problem"
The world's population is still growing. Although the rate of growth has been declining since the 1960's, global population grows each year by approximately 80 million people, or the equivalent of the population of a country the size of Germany. The total world population has doubled in the last forty years. This is by far the fastest it has ever grown in terms of numbers of people. This has happened even though many people have reduced the numbers of children per couple to less than three.
The total population continues to grow for some time after fertility stabilizes at replacement level, or the number of births required for couples to replace themselves, which is 2.1 births per women. This phenomenon, known as population momentum, occurs when a large share of the population is young. If a large proportion of women are in their childbearing years, the total number of births can remain the same or even increase although the rate of childbearing per women falls. Momentum is a powerful demographic force and will account for about half of the world's population growth over the next 100 years.
"Countries now accept that population concerns are at the heart of sustainable development strategies. Rapid population growth and high fertility hold back development. The help perpetuate poverty. They make it hard for countries to concentrate on the future, because resources are soaked up by present needs." UNPFA 1999
"We shouldn't worry - modern technology will solve our problems"
Ironically, it is modern technology that has put us in this fix. With the introduction of safer water and antibiotics, the infant mortality rate has dropped considerably, in nearly all countries, including the poorest of developing countries.
As for better farming practices, prevention of soil erosion, smog emission controls, and other technologies, the world is not keeping up. Water per person is becoming scarcer and poorer in quality. Desertification and soil depletion in developing countries is a serious problem. Urban air pollution is the number one killer of small children. Even if the developed world has the technology, it is not getting to the developing world fast enough.
Even in the United States, with its advanced technology, we suffer from urban sprawl, smog, loss of animal and plant species, loss of farmland, and fewer real forests. Plus little has been done to slow the depletion of the world's fisheries.
In the meantime, the population is predicted to double in another 35- 50 years. Will technology keep up with this burden? The best thing that we can do with technology at this point is to make available the ways of family planning: condoms, contraceptives, sterilization. After all, most people WANT to limit their family size.
"If things get really bad, we can build space ships and take the extra people to another planet."
The trouble with space travel is that it will be expensive. Only a few people can afford it. 2.5 people are born in the world every second, so even if everyone could afford space travel, a space ship that held 9,000 people would have to be built and leave the planet every hour, just to keep up with the world's hourly population growth. Can you think of a country that would have the resources and the manpower to build, fuel, and send up a spaceship that big every hour?
The late Professor Julian Simon of the University of Maryland has advocated continued population growth long into the future. In the newsletter of a major think tank in Washington, D.C., Simon wrote:
We have in our hands now - actually in our libraries - the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next 7 billion years... Even if no new knowledge were ever gained...we would be able to go on increasing our population forever. ( Simon 1995 )
If world population growth continues at a rate of 1% per year, (k = 0.01 per year) how long would it take for the population to grow until the number of people was equal to this estimate of the number of atoms in the known universe? This calls for us to find t in the following equation.
The estimated number of atoms in the known universe is about 3 times ten raised to the power 85.
3 x 1085 = 5.7 x 109 exp(0.01 t)
5.26 x 1075 = exp(0.01 t)
174 = .01 t
t = 17 thousand years
The population of the world at the time this was typed was thought to be 5.7 times 10 raised to the 9th power.
Albert A. Bartlett
Common Clichés and Deceptions:.
This site talks about the following cliches and deceptions and more:
Enough Already website
- "We have enough food to feed the world, it's just not distributed equitably."
- "Birth rates are dropping and the situation is under control."
- "We need growth to generate more wealth."
- "You growth-control nuts just hate people. We need to save the humans, not the whales."
- "No one has any business suggesting that I limit my family size."
- "All this talk of population control is a government plot to take away my freedoms."
- "It's elitist to talk about growth control. You are merely trying to repress my culture."
- "God will be the one to decide when there are too many people."
Congressman John Doolittle said:
" Long-term prices of the primary commodities that human beings extract or harvest from the earth -- cereals, timber, oil, minerals, and the like -- are far lower than 100 years ago. Prices convey information about scarcity -- and the information these prices convey is that primary commodities are less scarce than ever before."
That's the same argument Simon made over and over. It's also the same argument all other economists make. In short, it is this: if supply exceeds demand, prices fall; if demand exceeds supply, prices rise.
So Julian Simon misleads two people above. Most economists will agree that supply and demand are not the only factors. The costs of extracting or producing commodities is another factor that must be considered. With modern technology, we have been able to produce more and more at less cost - passing the savings on to the customers.
In Denial and Naysayers
Why Environmentalists Should Get Involved in Immigration Reform (and Rebuttal).
March 18, 2010
American Babies Are Ruining Everything; the Truth is More Brains Will Likely Mean Cleaner Energy Technologies.
Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax of Oregon State University say in a study called "Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals," it's not enough to trade your SUV for a Prius, use the right lightbulbs, or limit your lawn to organic fertilizers, but you need to start thinking about having one less child.
"A person is responsible for emissions of his descendents."
An American woman who recycles, installs energy efficient windows, cuts back how much she drives, and makes other lifestyle sacrifices, will have her efforts negated by having two children, adding nearly 40 times the amount of carbon dioxide emissions she had saved with those lifestyle changes. The Los Angeles Times web site reported this under the title "Tie Your Tubes and Save the Planet?"
John Holdren, the president's science adviser, in a 1973 article, claimed that "210 million [Americans] now is too many and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be too many."
Recently, doctors writing in the British Medical Journal Lancet wrote that each new birth in the U.K. will end up resulting in 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions than a new birth in Ethiopia, and said that having one less child "is the simplest and biggest gift anyone can make" to a habitable planet.
But the author of this article believes that: "Given the freedom to grow and innovate, surely the same people who have licked polio, sent a man to the moon, and given us a revolution in information will sooner or later come up with new technologies that will provide for our energy needs while being friendlier to the environment." ... "The task is not without its challenges. But we're not likely to get far with a 'science' that defines the problem as American babies."
Karen Gaia says: If we had started working on this technology a couple of decades ago, the author may have a point. But we didn't and now we are stuck. But possibly peak oil will take care of the problem anyhow. The author ignores the other problems with overpopulation, like resource depletion.
August 3, 2009
Wall Street Journal
Sustainable Development: the Root of All Our Problems.
This article is summarized here only to show how some people think and to give us an idea of what we are up against:
Al Gore warned that a "wrenching transformation" must take place to lead America away from the "horrors of the Industrial Revolution." The process to do that is called Sustainable Development and its' roots can be traced back to a UN policy document called Agenda 21, adopted at the UN's Earth Summit in 1992.
Sustainable Development calls for changing the infrastructure of the nation, away from private ownership to central planning of the entire economy.
Elected city councils and commissioners have lost approximately 10% of their power during the past 10 years. The power of private groups called Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has increased by as much as 300%.
The Sustainablists insist that society be transformed by making Nature the central principle for our economy and society.
Sustainable Development's Social Equity is based on a demand for "social justice" based on the principle that individuals must give up selfish wants for the needs of the common good. Does this differ from Communism?
This is the same policy to allow the "migration" of those from other nations into the US. Under the Sustainablist system, private property is an evil used simply to create wealth for a few.
Sustainable Development's economic policy is based on one premise: that the wealth of the world was made at the expense of the poor. Sustainable Development policy is redefining free trade to mean centralized global trade "freely" crossing (or eliminating) national borders. Human activities should be molded along nature's rhythms. Sustainablist policy is to oversee any issue in which man reacts with nature and because the environment always comes first, there must be great restrictions over private property ownership and control.
Under Sustainable Development there can be no concern over individual rights. The politically based environmental movement provides Sustainablists camouflage as they work to transform the American systems of government, justice, and economics. It is a masterful mixture of socialism (with its top down control of the tools of the economy) and fascism (where property is owned in name only - with no control). Sustainable Development is the worst of both the left and the right. It is not liberal, nor is it conservative. It is a new kind of tyranny that, if not stopped, will surely lead us to a new Dark Ages of pain and misery yet unknown to mankind.
January 07, 2008
Opinion: To the Edge of the Universe with Julian Simon.
Even a few so-called environmental spokespersons are now saying that population growth really isn't a problem. I think it is likely that the intellectual reason is their belief that Paul Ehrlich was wrong with his dismal predictions, and Julian Simon was right with his optimistic views. This is why population growth isn't taken seriously anymore.
We can show how dangerously mad Julian Simon was. He was an amusing fellow, saying that we have the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next 7 billion years. The planet Earth came into being only about four and a half billion years ago. Life developed no more than four billion years ago. Yet, Simon believed that the human population could continue to grow for seven billion years. In 1994, when Simon popped off about seven billion years, the world population was doubling every forty-three years. Julian Simon was (and remains) the most lauded no-limits-to-
growth economist for the Wall Street Journal crowd.
The full document then includes many references to other comments from the science field.
March 31, 2007
Focus on Reproductive Health - 'If Only We Had Enough Condoms'.
We have a new ideology whose adherents believe will usher in a new heaven on earth, if only its adherents had money and power, and its opponents would surrender their squeamishness, this could solve the world's problems. "Condomism."
They believe that human salvation will require all sorts of birth control. The West developed economically before the Pill.
They say lower population growth is good, because it provides countries with an opportunity to make rapid gains in living standards. No word how countries with declining fertility rates, are going to take care of elderly people.
Contraception has always been part of an ideological package.
This package says that very person is entitled to unlimited sexual activity;
that all negative consequences can be controlled or eliminated through the use of contraception; that sexually transmitted diseases can be controlled through the use of condoms; that Abortion is an absolute entitlement; that any negative consequences of sexual activity that cannot be handled by contraception or abortion are not worth talking about; that we could save the earth, end world hunger and bring peace and freedom to the entire world, if only we had enough condoms.
We in the developed world have no business foisting this cultural package onto our poorer neighbors.
Karen Gaia says: This article serves to point out that we have a lot of educational work to be done. Please send me your comments: email@example.com
November 25, 2006
Environmentalism as a Religion.
Paul Ehrlich said that 60 million Americans will die of starvation due to overpopulation in the 1980s. But population has been left off the doomsday list, lately. Fertility rates are falling almost everywhere. As a result, the predictions for total world population have gone from a high of 20 billion, to 15 billion, to 11 billion to now 9 billion, and soon, perhaps less. We now hear about the coming crisis of world economy from a shrinking population. As we have moved into the future, these doomsday visions vanished, like a mirage in the desert. So the preachers made a mistake. They got one prediction wrong; they're human. So what. Unfortunately, it's not just one prediction. It's a whole slew of them. We are running out of oil. We are running out of all natural resources.
Forty thousand species become extinct every year. Half of all species on the planet will be extinct by 2000. And on and on and on.
One of the defining features of religion is that your beliefs are not troubled by facts, so I can tell you some facts. I know you haven't read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers don't report them. I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, attributable to a western society that promoted environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide. We knew better, and we did it anyway. I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is weaker than its proponents would admit. The percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%. I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. We need an environmental organization that will be ruthless about acquiring verifiable results, that will fund identical research projects to more than one group, and that will make everybody in this field get honest fast.
Ralph says: This looks like just more fiction from a very good fiction writer. Perhaps he does not like hard facts. Karen Gaia says: Paul Erlich did not forsee the wonderful success of family planning developed and supported by USAID and the Cairo convention where women did better by choosing their family size. Matthew Simmons, an advisor to the Bush adminstration, says that oil is nearing or has already peaked. David Pimental of Cornell University says that the U.S. is divided up this way: urbanization, roads, & industry: 11%; livestock: 26%; suitable for crops: 20%; forestry: 25%; desert & mountains: 18%. I don't know about the numbers of species, but I do know that primates other than man are seriously threatened. Michael Crichton ought to stick to fiction.
October 31, 2006
Michael Crichton, fiction writer
Uganda;: High Population Growth Rate Good.
Uganda's high population growth rate is a good thing, says state minister for planning, Omwony Ojok. The increased population means a potential for a bigger market and the capacity to defend the nation. Uganda population growth rate is 3.6% per annum.
Ojok said "We are Ugandans and must determine our policy for our benefit and not for the benefit of others." Ojok, however, said there was need to increase the current 5% GDP growth rate to transform the economic infrastructure through industrialisation. The government will focus on promoting commercial production, address security, encourage micro-finance and boost farmers' groups in rural areas.
Karen Gaia says Mr. Ojok needs to do his arithmitic. If you divide the economic pie between a larger population, you get smaller slices per person. Perhaps Ojok is thinking that some of the people (himself included?) will benefit by a larger population base.
October 23, 2006
The New Vision
U.S.;: What it Means to Hit 300 Million.
The U.S. will join the small club of countries with at least 300 million residents. Is it coincidence that the three countries with the largest populations also have the most dynamic economies in the world? Is it coincidence that the most innovative major industrialized country, the U.S., has the fastest growing population and the most young people?
A nation with a large population may have an advantage for one thing, most new products and technologies fail. But a big home market offers a very attractive prize for success. On balance, "population growth helps income growth and general welfare," wrote economist Gary Becker. According to this view, the large size of the U.S. home market is one of the important reasons U.S. companies have been more innovative.
But it's also how old they are. Because the U.S. has a growing population its people are younger than most of its rivals. Almost 28% of the U.S. population is under 20. By comparison, 25% in France, 20% in Germany, and around 19% in Japan and Italy.
Young people tend to be more open to innovation and risk-taking. They have endless supplies of energy.
As customers, the young are more receptive to trying out new things. By 2015, the U.S. will have a higher youth percentage than China.
Between 2000 and 2005, immigrants accounted for more than 40% of population growth and immigrants seem to have an impact on innovation. Because they are not integrated into the existing social networks, it's easier for them to try something new.
Reaching 300 million living and breathing souls is a good sign for the future of the U.S. economy.
Ralph says: I suggest the author considers more than the present profits from a growing population. Eventually population growth has to stop. Karen says: sounds like a giant Ponzi scheme - we need to produce more and more young people to replace the oldsters who need social security. The author has no understanding of the limits of nature.
September 05, 2006
U.S.: The War on Contraception.
The president of the American Life League, Judie Brown, said that when a baby is conceived accidentally, a couple using contraception have this negative attitude toward the child and therefore seek an abortion. The league opposes all forms of contraception.
Americans United for Life, see contraception and abortion as part of a mind-set that's worrisome in terms of respecting life and has to include how we think and act with regard to sexuality and contraception.
Many Christians who are active in the anti-birth-control arena state that they want to change the way Americans have sex.
Focus on the Family posts on its Web site: "Contraception, encourages sexual promiscuity, sexual deviance (like homosexuality) and a preoccupation with sex that is unhealthful even within marriage".
For those who work in the public health field, and respect long-standing public health principles it's extremely disheartening to think they may be set back decades.
There are 6.4 million pregnancies a year in the U.S., 3.1 million are unintended and 1.3 million end in abortion. If women had quick, easy access to a backup contraceptive, those rates would drop.
At a White House press briefing Scott McClellan would not say whether Bush supported contraception.
What makes some people think that they can impose their morals and their ill-conceived notions on others? There is nothing wrong with wanting to limit family size. It is for the betterment of the family. These ultra-conservative types have a propensity for neglecting their many children - as some statistics show. Limiting family size also means a healthier family - it is anti-life to turn a woman into a brood mare until she dies giving birth, or to have children too close together. And, it is nobody's business if two consenting adults have sex - as long as they take responsibility for the consequences.
May 7, 2006
New York Times*
Plant Babies, Not Trees.
This year, a major focus of Earth Day is an emphasis on stopping the impact of global climate change. But these efforts to raise awareness about the earth is one of the biggest problems facing the earth. We're just not making enough people anymore, and that has devastating consequences for the planet.
The United States is doing OK, for now. But Europe is quite literally on its way to extinction. Unless this trend turns around, and there's no reason to think it will, Italy will eventually cease to exist as we know it now. The same is true for virtually every other European country. In less than 500 years, there will be no Japanese people, and other Asian nations will follow suit. Even in the third world, birthrates have been cut by half, to an average of less than three children per woman.
The earth's total population is still on the rise, though it will increase by less than 50% in the next 50 years before population growth actually starts to decline. Almost all of that growth will come from the developing world.
The earth's population quadrupled over the last century because of longer life spans thanks to increased health, wealth and increasingly more abundant and ever-cheaper food in even the poorest parts of the planet. Air and water are cleaner today in every industrialized and many developing countries than was the case 25 years ago.
That's because in free societies people become productive resources, not drains, on the world. There's plenty of room here for more folks, by the way. According to urban planning expert Dr. Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., the entire "human footprint" in the United States - every building, road, grocery store, farmhouse, you name it, takes up a grand total of. less than 5% of the continental United States land mass!
We're just not having enough babies and that has devastating consequences for the developing world and for the planet itself.
This Earth Day, if we really want to raise consciousness about problems facing our globe we shouldn't focus on planting trees - we have plenty of those - we should focus on planting more babies.
Ralph says: I have never read such rubbish in all my life. Betsy needs to travel around the world and use her plain common sense (if she has any). I have never seen such an example of choosing just the facts that fit the argument. I am almost ashamed of summarizing this article.
April 20, 2006
Scripps Howard News Service
Why People Hate Fat Americans.
Americans are not just big, but super-size. Yet this obsession with obese Americans is about more than body fat. Obesity has become a metaphor for 'over-consumption' and is blamed not just for bloated bodies, but for a society which is seen as too big for its own good. An editorial in the UK Guardian said that America is the most powerful country on Earth. But its citizens, begging for help, are suffering agonies more familiar from Sudan and Niger. The implication is that America's wealth is pointless. A column in the Washington Post argued that Americans build homes on unstable hillsides, and communities in woodlands ripe for fire. We rely on technology and the government to protect us from our missteps, and usually, that is enough. But sometimes nature outwits the best human efforts. From this perspective, the pursuit of economic development is worse than useless and makes matters worse for humanity. Bigness: the concept seemed to fuel the marketing of just about everything, from cars to homes to clothes and back to food. Making a connection between obesity and consumption is a staple of many environmentalist texts. The US GDP continues to expand along with our waistlines, but our quality of life continues to diminish. Michael Moore does criticise America for being number one in consumption of beef, energy, oil, natural gas and calories. In an opinion poll of public attitudes the USA is seen as greedy by Western publics and 7% of Americans see their compatriots as greedy. Food is portrayed as the most conspicuous example of a society that consumes too many resources and is regarded as incapable of making Americans, or any other people, happy. At worst it is portrayed as being akin to a disease. The first argument is that there is a close relationship between food consumption and the use of resources. So criticising cheap food in rich societies can be a way of attacking affluence. But critics of cheap food forget that its attainment is a historical achievement. Most of human history involved a struggle to find food. The battle against hunger was the norm and is still true in much of the developing world. So to have achieved a situation where food scarcity is virtually eliminated is a tremendous achievement. It allows people to spend time on other things rather than struggling to meet their basic needs. As for the argument that consumption is somehow bad - that is deeply flawed. Humanity has benefited enormously from economic growth and the increase in consumption. It has allowed people to live longer and healthier lives and brought cultural benefits. Critics of consumption have the incorrect assumption that there is a finite amount of resources. The problem is not too much food in America but too little food in the developing world but the anti-consumption campaigners want to concentrate on reducing consumption in the rich world. What is true for food holds for other resources. As the world becomes richer the resources available to humanity also expands. A wealthy society can utilise more resources and use them more efficiently. Whether people feel happier is a complex question. In Britain there are those who argue that beyond a certain point society becomes no happier as it becomes wealthier. According to a recent opinion poll: 'Americans are more satisfied with their lives, more likely to believe that their lives have improved and more likely to expect their personal situations will improve than most Europeans,' 58% of Americans said they were very satisfied with their lives in 2004-5 compared with 31% of Western Europeans. Only the Danes, with 64% were very satisfied, were happier than the Americans. Examine the idea that consumption should be limited, in either a secular or religious form. The call for limits is a central element of contemporary politics, whereas in the past the focus was on how best to make society wealthier so that everyone could benefit. Underlying are the implicit assumptions that consumption needs to be limited, there is an element of moralism from the preachers of limited consumption. In their view, the world has reached the stage where 'the interests of global society will be served primarily by restraint'. The concept of 'sustainable development' has been accepted by international agencies as well as by national governments. The notion of sustainable development embodies the needs of limits. The 1992 Rio Summit called on states to 'reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies'. Under President Bill Clinton the USA had the 'President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD)' and had the role of looking at population and consumption. The need to impose limits on consumption is accepted by national governments and by multilateral agencies. There is still an enormous amount of work to be done to raise the level of consumption in the world in relation to the poor countries. But even in the developed world there is still much to do. For example, there is much talk of a 'demographic time bomb', meaning that it is not possible to provide a decent income for pensioners. However, with economic growth, and higher consumption levels for all, there is no reason why this problem cannot be solved. Holding back on economic growth means that future generations will be less wealthy than they would otherwise be and will be in a weaker position to tackle their problems. The worst that we can do for the future is put limits on economic growth in the present. Human beings are seen as parasites using up the world's natural resources. In contrast, the ability to solve social problems and create a more productive society, is at best downplayed.
Interesting viewpoint. At no point does the author offer proof that there are unlimited resources.
September 9, 2005
Overpopulation Nonsense Still Captures Minds.
Since the days of Thomas Malthus, who in 1798 wrote "An Essay on the Principles of Population," many have watched in fear for the day of global starvation. In 1924, New York University Professor Henry Prall Fairchild warned of how the world's population, then at about 1.7 billion, threatened to cause wars as populations migrated from country to country in search of food. In 1948, the New York Times reviewed a book by William Vogt titled "Road to Survival" and concluded, "There might be room for quibbling as to whether S-day (S for starvation or for salvation -- it all depends!) will fall in 1991 or 2048. But the handwriting is on the wall." In the meantime, population in the United States has continued to grow, and the standard of living has continued to rise. It turns out that humans are the planet's greatest natural resource. Consider what life was like a century ago with tuberculosis, typhoid, sanitariums, child labor, child death, horses, horse manure, candles, 12-hour workdays, Jim Crow laws, tenements, slaughterhouses and outhouses. To live to 50 was to count one's blessings. In many nations, people are starving or suffering from a lack of proper shelter or hygiene but this is a product of a lack of political and economic freedom, not of overpopulation. My daughter should know that her class holds as much, if not more, promise than any that have gone before. Children don't suffocate, they expand horizons. Oppose immigration if you will, but not on the grounds that overpopulation will squeeze us all off the continent.
Ah! well, I guess there will always be some people who believe in fairies. The writer should go to some of the places and see for himself not be so damned self satisfied. The improvements in living standards did NOT come from the growth in population but growth in intelligence -- and the ability to strip the earth of its natural resources using technology and relatively available oil -- oil which shall soon peak.
June 12, 2005
Deseret Morning News (US)
Philippines Family Planning in the News.
An anti-abortion group lambasted the Department of Health for promoting the "deceptive, coercive, anti-Filipino and anti-child" Ligtas Buntis Campaign. US-based Human Life International said USAID and UNFPA want to control the population of the Philippines to control its natural resources and the bill will lead to the legalization of abortion. The Philippine government and UNFPA signed an agreement to keep Filipino women from dying of pregnancy-related causes and to get Filipino men involved in reproductive health in the next five years. UNFPA said the government's 10-point agenda is an excellent measure to empower the poor and the disadvantaged. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that family planning advocates in the Philippines held a summit to discuss family planning and the integrated reproductive health and population-reduction bill amid the Catholic Church's campaign against the proposed law. More than 200 representatives attended the summit organized by the Ing Makababaying Aksyon Foundation and supported by USAID.
The Sun Star (Philippines)
ALL and Judy Brown.
Judie Brown, whose anti-abortion group American Life League (ALL) assists lobbyists, cites the International Planned Parenthood Federation as "really in favor of no parenthood, if you're poor," and the World Health Organization as never having a good thing to say about a child. She says USAID "is in cahoots with a lot of people that don't really like families, even though they say they're in favor of families." A similar group, the Population Research Institute (PRI), spearheaded a campaign to get the White House to cut funds to the UNFPA because of alleged involvement in human-rights abuses. [The Bush administration cut the funds even though his own fact-finding team could not substantiate PRI's claims.] PRI contends that the U.S. shortchanges other programs so it can funnel money to governments and organizations for family planning. In a 1999 report, the group concluded that population-control programs should be abolished.
March 09, 2003
The Free Lance Star (Fredericksburg VA)
Naysayer and Misinformation Web Sites.
Enough Already website
American Life League: USAID Responsible for AIDS Epidemic, AIDS Orphans; Genocide Hidden in AIDS Relief Package.
[Can you believe this?] "For the past few decades, funding for condom distribution abroad has fueled the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus," said the American Life League, attacking Clinton's $54 million HIV/AIDS relief program for Africa-a program titled "Leadership and Investment in Fighting an Epidemic," or LIFE. "AIDS mortality has skyrocketed over the past decade and a half, concomitant with USAID's massive condom distribution campaign. ... by occasioning promiscuity under the false guise of 'safe sex,' condom distribution has created genocide in the name of AIDS relief. .. By USAID's own admission, over one billion condoms have been provided to men, women and adolescents throughout the developing world over the past few decades."
Didn't the Catholic Church inhibit the use of condoms until the epidemic was well under way? How can only one billion condoms (many of them never used) distributed between a billion young couples in the third world over several decades possibly
promote any significant degree of promiscuity? What should they do - the millions of wives who need protection from AIDS because of the acts of errant husbands?
July 17, 2000
World Life League .
Lomborg Ignored Key Issues and Set Up Straw Men and Knocked Them Down.
Bjřrn Lomborg established a short list, ignoring key environmental issues. He tossed out climate change as too big a problem and too expensive to fix. He used gross numbers to mask species loss, for example, in proclaiming fisheries were not declining because the gross annual catch was up. He focussed his criticisms on the publications of the Worldwatch Institute, and the views of its former President, Lester Brown. See http://www.gristmagazine.com/books/lomborg121201.asp. The Danish Ecological Council gathered a group of twelve Danish scientists - publishing a critique that is available in English version at the website http://www.ecocouncil.dk/index_eng.html .
January 08, 2003
Environmental News Service
Bjřrn Lomborg: Wrong.
January 23, 2003
Environment and Science: Danes Rebuke a 'Skeptic'.
The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty, a branch of the Danish Research Agency, found that Bjorn Lomborg, a professor of political science and statistics at the University of Aarhus, displayed "scientific dishonesty" in his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist". The evaluation of the book was prompted by severe criticism from many environmental scientists, most recently in an extended critique published in Scientific American in 2002, who disputed his rosy portrayal of current environmental conditions. After a 6-month review, the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty concluded "that the book displayed 'systematic one-sidedness' ... ... 'is deemed to fall within the concept of scientific dishonesty’ as defined by Danish rules for scientific integrity". Lomborg was recently appointed director of the Danish Institute for Environmental Assessment and, despite his concerns, was assured by government officials that his job was not in jeopardy. For the full story, see the original article and summaries noted below.
January 08, 2003
New York Times*
Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark: a Skeptical Look at the Skeptical Environmentalist.
Before the events of Sept. 11 nudged our national mood, skepticism was the disposition of the day and in the opinion of Grist Magazine, that's a good thing. Bjorn Lomborg, an associate professor of statistics at Denmark's University of Aarhus, applies doubt to environmentalism and concludes that most of its basic ideas are incorrect. We will not lose our forests, run out of energy, raw materials, or water. We have reduced pollution in the developed world. Our oceans have not been defiled, our rivers are cleaner and support more life. Lomborg claims that these are "phantom problems" created by environmentalists for their own ends, and thus time and money are diverted from needier causes. Grist asked respected scientists in their fields to address the allegations and many of the worlds experts totally disagree with his findings stating that he reached wildly inaccurate conclusions, failed to interpret data correctly, exaggerated, made sweeping generalizations, presentated false choices, was selective in his use of data, and made outright errors of fact. Lomborg's real goal is to divide the left and discredit the environmental movement.
Limits to Growth (Bjřrn is at It Again!).
A 1972 study declared that, with finite resources, unlimited expansion and prosperity are impossible and the 1973 oil crisis, made the study seem eerily prescient. 30 years later, the forecasts have not come true. Vital minerals are not exhausted. Food prices have never been lower, people live longer and in Western cities, pollutants are on the decline. The real weakness is the assumption that Earth has finite resources. But the availability of resources adjust in accordance with progress. Renewable energy (such as solar and wind power) are an alternative to fossil fuels. The world’s known oil reserves have increased despite a rise in consumption. The problem in the West is a fertility rate too low to sustain a vibrant workforce. The limit of sustainability is formed by human innovation and technological progress. Thus, the most problematic assumption is the omission of technological progress and human innovation. If the rate of technological progress is included, the Earth’s collapse will be avoided by a large margin. The emphasis has shifted from the exhaustion of resources to the environmental consequences. Global warming, is often cited as the paramount threat. But global warming does not have the same impact on wealth as would a theoretical exhaustion of essential world resources. The scale of the problem makes it unreasonable to talk about a limit to growth. Moreover,the global community would be capable of limiting carbon dioxide emissions with the technology currently at hand. Humanity would be better served by focusing on corruption, barriers to trade, and war.
Look for an upcoming rebuttal by Ralph.
Foreign Policy Magazine
The Environmentalists Are Wrong (by Bjorn Lomborg).
The developed world worries that human activity is defiling the earth and may end up killing itself. This is not supported by the evidence. Resources are more abundant, more food produced. Only 0.7% of species are expected to disappear in the next 50 years. Environmental pollution has been exaggerated and can be cured by accelerating growth. Despite evidence, the West focuses on sustainability. Carbon dioxide has increased global temperature, yet the debate aims at reducing emissions without regard to cost. The Kyoto treaty, aims for Europe to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. This will have less impact in industrialized nations than developing countries. The Kyoto Protocol will cost $150 to $350 billion annually and this cost for one year could provide every person with clean water. The focus should be on development, not sustainability. The developed world prioritizes the future at the expense of the present. The U.S. administration should focus on clean water, better sanitation and health care and the fight against poverty. If the United States is willing to commit the resources to ensure development, it could emerge as the savior.
[Note: this article is by one of the chief naysayers of population and the environment. Rebuttals submitted to WOA!! are always welcome -- in fact we even intend to develop a special Bjorn Lomborg page.]
August 26, 2002
New York Times
World Population Awareness and
World Overpopulation Awareness (WOA!!)
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