Population Bombers

Population fetishists love to complain that the planet is over-crowded and we should do something about it, like perhaps letting self-important ecotards regulate how many kids to have.

The usual target of the ‘overpopulation bombers’ isn’t developed nations, but Africa and other poor countries, because to these elitists, the poor are the problem.  Don’t take my word for it, here’s patron of the Optimum Population Trust, Dr Norman Myers:

Because of their [Madagascans] poverty, as well as their large, quickly increasing human numbers, they do not have the capacity to practice what we call intensive agriculture. So what do they do? They pick up their machetes and matchboxes and head into the only unoccupied land available–the tropical forest. That is why the forests are being burned down. Too many people with too little income. Too much poverty. The two are inextricably linked.

Altogether on Earth, the number of people trying to live off an income of less than $1 a day is, believe it or not, 1.2 billion. That is about 1 person in 4. This number and the proportion is growing. The poor are causing incredible environmental damage. They are burning down the forests, they are desertifying the savannahs and they are cultivating steep slopes which causes enormous soil erosion. They are doing the most environmental damage in the tropics. And it is in the tropics where most species exist.

Dr. Myers suggests that trees and ‘species’ trump the needs of poor people.  Some have a problem with the ethics of that opinion.

What is sick about optimum populationists isn’t that they see a problem like hunger or poverty but instead of constructively looking for ways to alleviate the problem, their solution is just fewer people.  Especially poor ones.  Jeremy Irons is even threatening to make a film about over population.

But now we might be saved from such small-minded thinking, as the global population seems to be taking care of itself:

the population bomb that I remembering being scared by forty years ago as a schoolkid is being defused fast.  Back then, most women round the world had five or six children.  Today’s women have just half as many as their mothers – an average of 2.6.  Not just in the rich world, but almost everywhere. This is getting close to the long-term replacement level which, allowing for girls who don’t make it to adulthood, is around 2.3.   Women are doing cutting their family sizes not because governments tell them to, but for their own good, the good of their families — and, if it helps the planet too, then so much the better.

This is a stunning change in just one generation.  Why don’t we hear more about it?  Because it doesn’t fit the doomsday agenda.

If this isn’t good enough news for the OPT crew, then I’ll repeat my invitation to Mr. Porritt and his friends.  After you, please.


5 thoughts on “Population Bombers”

  1. Although it’s true that population growth will likely stabilize and is slowing down in most countries, the sheer number of human beings on this planet is still growing, will still close to double by the time it stabilizes, and is an enormous problem!

    To say that this represents a “doomsday agenda” or that those who are concerned about the issue “prefer trees over people” is really, really un-constructive.

    “The problem” will take care of itself ONLY if we manage to encourage sustainable economic growth in poor countries, and (probably more importantly) give women in those countries access to education, economic opportunities, and access to birth control.

    And that’s the easy part!

    The hard part is going to be building a new economy (in all countries) that is based less on extraction and consumption – figure that one out and you’ll be the next billionaire with a Nobel prize to boot.

  2. Wee bit negative Mr Aster? Try Matt Ridley’s new book, The Rational Optimist, it might give you some food for thought. Or read something from Julian Simon, instead of Paul Elrich or John Holdren.

    The world is a much better place now than it was 50 years ago and getting better all the time, but there are always going to be those that believe we’re on our way to hell in a handbasket.

    Nothing but fantastic progress for humanity behind them, and all they can see of the future is gloom and doom.

    1. I side with the optimists and have a hard time believing that the world is even close to overcrowded.

      Paul Ehrlich has been serially wrong his entire career, where he saw a chance to make money selling a doom-laden book, the quiet brilliance of Norman Borlaug saved millions from starvation, also negating Ehrlich’s predictions. Only one of these men deserve to be remembered in history.

      Let’s also remember why much of the world’s poor are in desperate difficulties – the green movement. Stopped DDT use, protests any improvements to crop yields from use of pesticides or genetic-modifications, refuses to allow the idea of cheap, reliable power.

      In fact, it could be argued that much of the green agenda seems designed for fulfilling the very doom-laden prophecies they peddle.

  3. Given half a choice of having so many children you end up with [graphic description of what I have seen in a gynaecology department deleted to protect the innocent, heterosexual male], or laminating your man in something convenient and getting an education (or even just seeing the occasional movie). Most women, even those in Catholic nations, tend to err on the side of having less children than the replacement level. You can see it all over the developed world.
    So in effect they are saying poor people with too much melanin shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce freely. Thats racialist. Or eugenicist. Or sumfing.
    Freely available contraception / fertility control plus adequate health standards that you don’t need to have 10 children just to get 3 live ones, and populations suddenly trend downwards. The numbers dont lie, they’re freely available. Australia has had a below-replacement level birth rate ever since they introduced the contraceptive pill.
    Mind you, I was thinking about it, and if I factor in my children reflecting current western trends: one will have a mental illness, one will have a drug habit and at least one will be emo-bi-curious and have an obsession with Twilight. Or all of the above.
    Hmmm, maybe I should have some more….just to hedge my bets….

  4. ” “The problem” will take care of itself ONLY if we manage to encourage sustainable economic growth in poor countries, and (probably more importantly) give women in those countries access to education, economic opportunities, and access to birth control. ”

    now we’re on the same page here. The question is how are they going to acheive that, when the green suits are blocking it at every turn to make the transition faster and easier, when they’re cockblocking the stuff for basic, sanitary, well fed lives by stopping cheap energy generation, allowing anything to produce better crop yeild, and diseases like malaria and stuff?

    that’s like handing me 5$ and asking me to build a 50 billion dollar enterprise overnight. it’s virtually impossible.

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