Skip to comments.Population implosion: Many nations aborting future generations, creating underpopulation crisis
Posted on 02/07/2003 1:37:10 PM PST by Caleb1411
The president of Estonia goes on national TV to urge his countrymen to have more children. Russian President Vladimir Putin warns his parliament about "a serious crisis threatening Russia's survival": the nation's low birth rate. The government of Singapore is trying to reverse that country's birth dearth by sponsoring a massive taxpayer-funded matchmaking service.
In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, panicking the world with dire predictions of a population explosion. By the year 2000, he predicted, the world would be so crowded that hundreds of millions would die of starvation. Although Mr. Ehrlich's prophecies have turned out to be almost comically wrong, PBS has produced a documentary taking him seriously, and philanthropists like Ted Turner still donate millions to combat population growth.
But the problem today is not overpopulation; it's underpopulation. For a population to reproduce itself, the fertility rate must average 2.1 children per woman. (The .1 allows for child mortality.) The fertility rate today among major developed nations is only 1.6.
The United States is rare among its peers in keeping its fertility rate at around the replacement level of 2.1, according to the Population Reference Bureau, which provided the fertility data cited here. Europe, though, is shrinking. Germany's rate is 1.3. Despite the stereotype of large Catholic families, France has a fertility rate of 1.9 and Italy has one of the lowest in Europe, 1.3. At this rate, there will be only about half as many Italians in the next generation. There will also be fewer Russians, whose fertility rate is 1.3.
Even nations that were once notorious for booming populations have drastically slowed down in reproducing themselves. In the last 20 years, India's fertility rate has gone from over four children per woman to about three. Mexico has gone from over four to just under three. China has a fertility rate of 1.8.
African nations continue to have very high fertility rates, up to five or six children per woman, but those lands are ravaged by AIDS, which is decimating their population. Muslim nations, on the other hand, tend to have booming population growthYemen's fertility rate is 7.2 children per woman.
Demographers predict that the world's population will level off at 9 billion, reports The Wall Street Journal. Then it will start dropping. There may well be nearly 500 million fewer people by 2075.
Isn't this a good thing? Why are so many governments panicking at the drop in their populations?
Although radical environmentalists like Mr. Ehrlich see human beings only as "consumers of the earth's resources," human beings are in fact the most valuable resource of all. Citizens are not just consumers but producers. Having fewer people can wreak havoc on an economy, creating both a labor shortage and a shortage of buyers. A government with a shrinking population faces a smaller military and fewer taxpayers. Dwindling populations have always signaled cultural decline, with less creativity, energy, and vitality on every level of society.
Already Japan fertility rate 1.3is facing the problem of having fewer taxpaying young people to support the burgeoning number of retirees, something that will hit the generous welfare states of Europe especially hard.
Already Europe has had to import large numbers of immigrants to bolster the labor force, most of them from the Middle East. Fewer and fewer native Europeansalong with the dwindling influence of Christianityand more and more Muslims raise the prospect of the Islamification of Western Europe. One reason "old Europe" is not supporting the United States in a war with Iraq is that politicians in France and Germany fear the reaction among their Muslim voters.
Why the population decline? The worldwide collapse of what are, literally, family values. Thanks to contraceptive technology, sex has become separated from childbearing. With women pursuing careers of their own and men getting sex without the responsibilities of marriage, why bother with children? For many women and men, pregnancy has become an unpleasant side effect, something to prevent with contraceptives or easily treat with a trip to the abortion clinic.
The dirty little secret of the population implosion, one seldom mentioned by demographers, is that the world is aborting its future generations. China has shrunk its fertility rate by its cruel policy of forced abortion. (The website of the International Planned Parenthood Federation has only good things to say about China and does not even mention how the government coerces women to have abortions. So much for "choice.")
In the United States, abortion ends between one-third and one-fifth of all pregnancies, and the U.S. abortion rate is relatively low. In Russia, the average woman may have as many as four abortions in her lifetime. There are two abortions for every live birth. That is to say, Russians kill two-thirds of their children before they are born. That, Mr. Putin, is the "serious crisis threatening Russia's survival."
The message to Putin and leaders of all western democratic-welfare states.... stop placing burdens on your citizens and making their lives difficult and they will start having the 'proper' number of babies.
The scalpel of the abortionist is the sword of Islam.
Underpopulated by others.
If you have to resort to agriculture to feed people, than the world is overpopulated.
And the world's entire present population could live in the state of Texas.
They could take up even less room if we pack them like they did at Alcatraz--funny how we equate crowding with a loss of freedom and punishment.
Human beings live on less than 1% of the earth's surface.
Then why do we have to pay for real estate if there is so much of it?
So, upon what criteria do you base your assertion that the earth is overpopulated?
Just that it seems like there are too many people in your opinion? Good. Then do us all a favor...
There, there, there . . . in a crowded world, you must learn to be tolerant of people having a ideas different from yours.
Totalitarianism thrives in crowded conditions--just look at how cities are governed.
More crowding, more laws.
How many of those immigrants are living on welfare and aren't working at all? Probably quite a few are coming for the good life but not to work. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait actually have to import workers even from the US and especially the Phillipines so this argument doesn't make that much sense. It's the prosperity and often the dole that draw immigrants, not lack of population.
Sorry, your asseveration that it is isn't proof positive. A few statistics and citations would help make your case.
Speaking of which, Michael Fumento is less than sanguine about the specter of overpopulation in his article The Myth of Too Many, in which he cites statistics and facts provided by the likes of Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug:
. . .You cant estimate population growth with a calculator because simple mathematical formulas dont take into account underlying circumstances such as fertility rates. But we do know that in almost every nation women are having fewer children, with those in about 60 nations already giving birth at a rate far less than the replacement rate.
Want some numbers? While world population has more than doubled since 1950 to the current 6.3 billion, according to the United Nations, the population will top out between 2050 and 2075. Demographer and American Enterprise Institute scholar Nicholas Eberstadt says its likely to come on the earlier end of that estimate, when the world hits 8 billion by 2050. I think its perfectly plausible that world population could peak by 2050 or even sooner and perhaps at a level below 8 billion, says Eberstadt, noting the past 35 years of declining fertility rates.
Thus the world in the next half century will have fewer additional people to take care of than it did in the last half century. In percentage terms, while it handled 100 percent more people in the last 50 years, it will only have to deal with 27 percent more in the next 50. Granted, thats still a lot of people. But its a long way from apocalyptic.
Its true that parts of the world tend to be pretty crowded. (Ehrlich has admitted the impetus for the book came when he found himself in the crush of humanity in a large city in India.) But while overcrowding may sound frightening, its a misleading term because its defined by individual and cultural lifestyles and circumstances which have little to do with the scientific definition of overpopulation. People in India were crammed together not because there were too many for the land to hold, but because like people the world over, they prefer urban centers to rural areas. Thats why some Manhattan high-rises practically house more people than South Dakota. Overcrowding may be a problem, but its not overpopulation.
Ehrlichs other prophecies of doom havent proven any more reliable. The Population Bomb initially focused on the prospect of famine, with Ehrlich predicting, In the 1970s the world will undergo famines . . . [and] hundreds of millions of people [including Americans] are going to starve to death. As it happened, he was off by, oh, hundreds of millions.
In Ehrlichs 1990 sequel, The Population Explosion, he claimed that world grain production peaked in 1986. Wrong. In 1986 about 1.8 million metric tons of cereals (the most important grain) were produced, an increase over previous years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation. By 2001, that number had increased to 20.7 million metric tons.
Global food production per person peaked earlier, in 1984, Ehrlich further claimed, and has slid downward since then. His fellow doomsayer, founder and president of the Worldwatch Institute Lester Brown (along with Ehrlich, another winner of the MacArthur Foundation genius award) wrote in 1981, The period of global food security is over.
Wrong and wrong again. From 1981 to 1989, grain production per person increased by more than 5 percent. Since then, its increased another 4 percent more per person. Yet we havent had to plow under the face of the earth to get this extra food. In 2001, 304 million acres were used to grow the worlds cereals, slightly less than in 1968 when Ehrlichs bombastic bomb book appeared and far less than the 330 million acres used in the peak year of 1991.
The figure that counts the most, however, is that calories available per person reached an all-time high of 2,800 by 1999, up from 2,371 in 1968. We are finally growing enough calories per person to keep the worlds population well fed if those calories were evenly distributed.
Unfortunately, far too many are sustaining the American obesity epidemic and still too few are going to the underdeveloped world. (Though, as the World Health Organization recently reported, obesity is now a problem even in many of the poorest nations.)
Eating one fewer Big Mac a day will help us stay healthier, but it wont do Africans or Indians any good. Talk about equitable distribution of food is just that, talk. Whats needed is a rising tide to raise all boats. Neo-Marxist groups like Greenpeace insist that all we have to do is to evenly divide up the worlds food; but thats no more likely than dividing up the worlds wealth. (Which they would also love to do.) Just as increasing wealth among the poorest requires increasing wealth generally, so too must we continue to increase the amount of food available for all to help those with the greatest need. This is even more important because lesser-developed countries are acquiring a taste for more meat, which requires far more crops than eating the crops directly would. The question is, are we up to the task of providing all those calories?
Norman Borlaug should know. Hes a Nobel Peace Prize winner and father of the Green Revolution, which brought dramatic increases in cereal-grain yields in many developing countries beginning in the late 1960s, due largely to use of genetically improved varieties. In his chapter in the just-released book Global Warming and Other Myths, he claims that the world has the technology either available or well-advanced in the research pipeline to feed a population of 10 billion people. More specifically, Even without using advances in plant biotechnology, yields can be increased by 50 to 70 percent in much of the Indian subcontinent, Latin America, the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and by 100 to 150 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.
There also are tremendous advances in biotechnology that make the scenario even brighter.
Consider a single crop: rice. Swiss researchers have added genes from daffodils to so-called Golden Rice to give it Vitamin A, the lack of which causes about 2 million deaths annually. (Its also the leading cause of preventable blindness in anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 children.) Then they added a gene from a fungus that creates an enzyme allowing the human digestive system to break down the iron in rice thats otherwise unavailable to us. Still other researchers are adding genes to rice crops that increase yields by 20 to 40 percent.
Of course, the ability to feed mankind is not our sole worry in terms of whether we can sustain a growing population. Yet time and again, weve stubbornly refused to run out of things that were supposed to have been depleted long ago.
Ehrlich in his 1974 book The End of Affluence declared that, Before 1985 mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity . . . in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion. He was hardly alone; a group called the Club of Rome issued a much-publicized report in 1972 that had us running out of virtually everything by now but sand and cockroaches.
Yet no minerals key or otherwise are today in danger of being depleted. Price over the long run (as opposed to temporary gyrations) is a direct indicator of scarcity. But the International Monetary Funds price index for metals is now the lowest it has ever been.
Similarly, while the Department of the Interior originally predicted that oil would run out in 1954 and later moved that back to 1964 because of technology breakthroughs improving the discovery and extraction of oil, reserves are more numerous than ever.
Still, there is one vital resource in which we may develop a shortage in the next few decades: us.
Thats because the worlds population wont just conveniently level off after it peaks; more likely it will drop like a stone.
According to U.N. Population Division Director Joseph Chamie, current population projections assume the earth is moving toward an average fertility level of 1.85 children per woman. Considering that a 2.1 level is needed to sustain a population, the planets population would peak at 7.5 billion by 2050 and fall to 5.3 billion by 2150.
And that has interesting political implications, since the decline will not be evenly distributed among nations. The populations of several Soviet-bloc nations already are falling because of declining birth rates and emigration. Japan is expecting its population to peak in 2006 and then drop by 14 percent (almost 20 million people) by 2050. Germany expects a similar decline, while Italy and Hungary may lose 25 percent of their populations and Russia a third. These nations already are becoming giant leisure worlds, with Depends outselling Pampers.
Still, theres one thing that as the population shrinks we simply wont be able to make up for.
Of all the population prophets, the one whose predictions got the least recognition was also the most accurate. That was the late University of Maryland economist Julian Simon. He saw humanity not as a plague of locusts but rather as what he called the ultimate resource in a 1981 book by the same name. The standard of living has risen along with the size of the worlds population since the beginning of recorded time, Simon observed in that book. And with increases in income and population have come less severe shortages, lower costs, and an increased availability of resources. True, he wrote, Adding more people will cause [temporary] problems, but at the same time there will be more people to solve these problems.
To Simon, the cry of a little baby represented not just one more mouth to feed, but perhaps the next Pascal, the next Kepler, the next Michelangelo, the next Bach.
We dont know how many of these wont be born. But well grieve their loss just the same
Has that ever been proven? The reverse certainly isn't true ---countries like Mexico with it's very high birth rate aren't prosperous for most of the people especially the ones with the high birth rates. Same for Middle Eastern countries --they aren't prosperous and yet Europe with a lower birth rate is.
I think it matters more which type of people are increasing --if you have a growing middle class population, that is good, but it can't be good when the middle class is shrinking and the handout class is growing.
I do. I've seen apartments here which were meant for one small family filled with over 20 mostly unrelated people living in them, sleeping in chairs and on the floor. I've seen 3 families living in one single-wide trailer with kids also sleeping on the floor. I think conditions like that will bring problems.
It is their duty to our nation and the world.
They just took 6 kids away from a 22 year old mother here (from Mexico) because she wasn't feeding them and letting them run wild, her own mother wasn't helping her raise the kids because she's in prison. Hopefully the kids will do okay in foster care ---there's a big difference between that population growth --which we have more of now because of high single teenage mothers having most of the babies --and middle class families who will work and take care of their kids.
Then it is strange that we enjoy hunting, hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, and canoeing so much that we pay for the privilege to do those things on our vacations.
In comparison, how many people pay to plow fields on their vacations?
If we were meant to sit behind a desk or to follow a plow all day, nature would have endowed us with a greater love for doing such things.
I can't recall seeing a healthy animal starving--and animals don't farm (except for certain ants--and they are designed to "like" it).
Why should humans require the back-breaking drudgery of agriculture to survive, if not because there are too many people for nature to easily supply them?
many people think San Fransisco is a beautiful place to live. Too bad the commielibs have made it a haven for filthy bums.
You confuse cause and effect.
More crowding requires more laws and less freedom.
Overpopulation is about how you must behave to obtain what you will have.
Tell that to those "experts" of yours.
And what business is it of anyone to encourage how many children other people should have?
Perhaps we should outlaw large families?
OK, more laws mean more government and less freedom--let's just encourage them by shunning and calling them vermin instead.
How unconsciously the pressures of overpopulation and its inclination to tyranny seep into our thinking!
Overpopulation is about how you must behave to obtain what you will have.
Tell that to those "experts" of yours.
Poor benighted souls that they are, those experts are all using a conventional definition of overpopulation. Evidently none of them have graduated from the Casey Stengel College of Circumlocution, where they would have picked up the latest decontructionist, postermodernist denotation of the word.
And some people like to be tied up and whipped.
The human mind is capable of perversion.
You think this is a good thing? LOL.
Needing a computer is, like agriculture, another insult to human happiness forced upon us by overpopulation.
If not for overpopulation, why should anyone bother about increasing food production beyond what is needed?
You make the same mistake European explorers did when they judged certain peoples as imprudent for not stowing food for a rainy day.
Those Europeans had no understanding that before overpopulation, there was no need to store for a rainy day, because those people they encounterd had never known a time when nature failed to provide them.
All of their surrounding world was their natural larder.
Why bother about storing stuff which can spoil and sicken you--or which you must worry over to prevent raiding by animals and insects?
So long have you worn the albatross of civilization and overpopulation around your neck, that you make the unconcious assumption that things made a necessity by overpoplation, were things that always were.
But in order to have a healthy, growing population, the average woman must have 2-3 kids...not 1-2. The individualistic view of childbearing just doesn't cut it...it doesn't give any motivation to women to have enough kids.
Only religious conviction, compounded by a cultural expectation of having large families to continue the existence of a cultural/tribal group, can provide adequate incentive to women to have more babies.
To the extent that govt policy can influence this (which is debatable), I would suggest that we pass a law that any married couple who has more than 4 biological children is permanently exempted from paying income tax. This would provide an incentive to those who have significant incomes to have kids, without also stimulating increased fertility amongst those who can't afford to raise kids to begin with.
As we ought? Why is that?