Too Few or Too Many?

Too Few or Too Many?

Two articles.  One telling me that there are too many people on the planet and one telling me that there aren’t enough.  That’s what appeared in my inbox this week.  I’m always a little taken back…and extremely skeptical… when I see a headline stating that the solution to a world problem is to get rid of people.  But that’s what the environmental group “Worldwatch Institute” implies.  Here’s the lead-in to their article:

“A new report from the Worldwatch Institute argues that assuring that all women have access to contraception and taking steps to improve women’s lives should be key strategies in the fight against global climate change.”

You will regularly hear the “get rid of people” argument applied to global warming, international development, and even to the use of contraception to lower maternal mortality rates.  Yet in the other article I was referring to, the flip side is presented:

  • 59 countries with 44 percent of the world’s population have below-replacement fertility.
  • Worldwide, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) fell from 5.0 in the mid-1960’s to 2.7 today.  That’s a drop of close to 50 percent.
  • Russia is losing 700,000 people a year and there are more abortions in that country than live births.
  • Any country with a Total Fertility Rate of 1.4 or below will lose a third of its population each generation (about every 25 years).  The majority of the developed world fits in this category.
  • Between 2015 and 2021, in Canada, the number of elderly will exceed the number of children under age 14 for the first time ever.  By 2050, Japan will have two senior citizens for every child.

“In discussions of the global economic crisis, almost everyone misses an underlying reality.  It’s not just bloated budgets, it’s empty nurseries.  Deficits and economic decline are driven by plummeting fertility,” states Don Feder, in a speech to the World Public Forum in October.  Mr. Feder effectively argues that the loss of people is a far more serious problem than the purported problems stemming from “global climate change.”

But I suspect that groups like Worldwatch Institute will never stop beating the “there are too many people” drum.  It’s religion for them.  Maybe we should start calling them “deniers…” population-decline deniers.

You can listen to an earlier version of  Mr. Feder’s speech here.

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