Seeing as how I am home this semester essentially due to burnout, of late I have shied away from blogging philosophically. However, an article I read on Zenit this evening has the more irate side of my philosophical mind working.
As the title of the article suggests, the world’s population will soon reach 7 billion, apparently sometime within the next year. (Planet Earth ain’t got nothin’ on Ator People.) I imagine sometime shortly (perhaps already, I haven’t been paying attention to the mainstream news), “experts” will start ringing the warning bells that, once again, Earth is in danger of complete collapse due to over population.
Let’s see… Thomas Malthus died in 1834. I don’t have the exact numbers (remember, I’m waxing here, not being specific), but let’s say the world’s population around then was 2 or so billion. A little over 150 years later, the world’s population has increased threefold, and, although there are plenty of starving people throughout the world, we have more than enough food to feed everyone, and probably another couple billion. (Read the statistics in the article.) Why do people keep going back to this overpopulation thing? It still hasn’t happened, and with the way that people in the West are producing, it never will – in fact, we’re going to have the opposite problem, at least in the West, if we don’t change how things are going.
What’s probably most sad are these numbers:
Nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s, [a Pew Research report published June 25] said.
According to the report, white women are most likely not to have borne a child. Nevertheless, in the last decade, childless rates have risen more rapidly for black, Hispanic and Asian women, so the racial difference is less now.
Figures vary quite a bit in other countries. The report said that for women born in 1960, 22% were childless in the United Kingdom, 19% in Finland and the Netherlands, and 17% in Italy and Ireland. Rates ranged from 12% to 14% for Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Sweden.
Wow. 22% of modern British women have gone childless. I imagine the number who have borne any more than two is lower than that.
How does this make sense when the West has an incredible amount of resources compared to the rest of the world? Ok, of course many of the children born in non-Western countries are starving. But an alarming number of the 2.1 children born in Western countries are obese, not merely eating a healthy amount. Oh, and there’s mostly spoiled, too. Call me self-critical, but I’d be strongly tempted to put myself in this latter category (to no fault of your own, Mom & Dad).
The crisis that the world faces is not overpopulation, but selfishness. Can I get a burn?
What’s telling in the article is that the U.N. division dealing purely with population statistics, not that family planning division (who juuust possibly might be influenced by certain family planning corporations), says that “the population as a whole is on a path toward non-explosion.” These words are, to some, a relief, to people like me, a no-brainer. What is chilling are these words:
Zlotnik also told the magazine that the speed with which fertility has declined in so many countries and cultures is ‘mind-boggling,’ and that they still don’t understand how it came about.
They still don’t understand how it came about. Wow. Children of Men truly is on the way.
Finally, perhaps my favorite line in the Zenit article, surely laced with sarcasm:
The father figure of modern Malthusianism is more pessimistic. On Jan. 14, the Guardian newspaper reported that Paul Erlich, author of the 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” considers that the earth is well past its carrying capacity.
In spite of the fact his book’s predictions of disaster turned out to be thoroughly wrong, Erlich declared he is even more pessimistic now than when he wrote his book.
Thoroughly wrong. Another burn, please?
To all my married friends: please, go make some babies and save Western civilization. And by some babies, I mean 5-8. Remember, someone once said somewhere:
Be fruitful and multiply.
He wasn’t kidding.