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Page added on November 6, 2011
The most ghoulish thing to happen this Halloween is that the world’s human population reached seven billion. Moreover, the United Nations Population Fund is predicting that, depending upon fertility rates, the global population could exceed nine billion by 2050 and even reach 15 billion by 2100.
As individuals we know how much we consume, and can guess how much energy it takes to get those material goods to us, so it is staggering to try to estimate the effect on the planet’s resources when that demand is multiplied by billions, even if millions of people subsist on far less than we do.
So statements such as “economists are pinning their faith on continued technological innovation and the invisible hand of market prices to lead to a more efficient, sustainable use of finite natural resources.” (“As power shifts, population presses; Rising economic clout of world’s most crowded countries threatens to drain world resources,” The Journal, Oct. 28) make my skin crawl.
This is a denial of the real problem, which is too many people consuming too many resources, and neglect of the most obvious solution to the problem, which is to have fewer people. Efficient use of finite resources can never be the final answer to sustainability if populations are to keep growing. How can you use resources efficiently if you have none left?
The UN report State of the World Population 2011 approves of immigration, presumably to rectify areas of labour shortage and to maintain the elderly populations of the rich countries. But how can immigration solve these problems in the long term?
Globalization creates joblessness. And if you increase the size of a given nation’s total population you only increase the number of elderly down the road who have to be supported by an ever-increasing number of immigrants, in a never-ending positive feedback system.
The report also notes that family planning is inadequate in dozens of countries. Yes, and it doesn’t help that the International Planned Parenthood Federation, an organization that promotes birth control and women’s reproductive health, has been blacklisted by powerful nations such as the U.S. and Canada for anachronistic religious and ideological reasons.
Stabilizing and reducing the world’s population as quickly as possible represents the best hope for the future of young children and their children.