Dangerous Population Growth Religiously and Secularly Ignored At Our Peril

By Donald A. Collins | 23 September 2014
Church and State

(Photo by Amith Nair on Unsplash)

Does to keep repeating the obvious in a world where all the pundits know everything and the leaders of all nations are certain they are right all the time leave us little choice but to accept their wisdom and die?? Could be.

Yes, no doubt their extraordinary Chutzpah will likely literally be “the death of us” in numbers so large that the human massacres of the 20th Century and the one we now occupy will seem modest.

Lest, after decades of writing warning articles ala the Club of Rome, I be accused of crying “Wolf” I simply again cite the latest research by the same respected sources whose work continues to be ignored.

Ryan Gorman tells us,

Earth could be teeming with more than 12 billion humans by the end of the century, a new study has revealed.

The world’s human population currently stands at about 7.5 billion. A population of 12.3 billion, if this new estimate holds true, would be two billion more than most previous estimates.

The joint United Nations — University of Washington study was conducted from data provided by the U.N. and was done to illustrate potential hurdles brought on by such a population explosion.

“A rapidly growing population will bring challenges,” statistician and sociologist Adrian Raftery, of the University of Washington, told Wired magazine. “But I think these challenges can be met.”

Raftery and his team of 13 scientists made their findings by evaluating fertility, mortality, migration and age pattern records, according to the results of the study published in Science.

Rafferty’s optimism belies the research of so many experts whose advice has also been ignored.

Another fairly recent example of great advice that has been ignored or pooh poohed came in 2011 when the world’s population was only 7 billion in a NY Times article by Joel E. Cohen, some of which I quote below.

ONE week from today, the United Nations estimates, the world’s population will reach seven billion. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date — the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March — but there can be no doubt that humanity is approaching a milestone.

The first billion people accumulated over a leisurely interval, from the origins of humans hundreds of thousands of years ago to the early 1800s. Adding the second took another 120 or so years. Then, in the last 50 years, humanity more than doubled, surging from three billion in 1959 to four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987 and six billion in 1998. This rate of population increase has no historical precedent.

Can the earth support seven billion now, and the three billion people who are expected to be added by the end of this century? Are the enormous increases in households, cities, material consumption and waste compatible with dignity, health, environmental quality and freedom from poverty?

For some in the West, the greatest challenge — because it is the least visible — is to shake off, at last, the view that large and growing numbers of people represent power and prosperity.

This view was fostered over millenniums, by the pronatalism of the Hebrew Bible, the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church and Arab thinkers like Ibn Khaldun. Mercantilists of the 16th through the 18th centuries saw a growing population as increasing national wealth: more workers, more consumers, more soldiers. Enlarging the workforce depressed wages, increasing the economic surplus available to the king. “The number of the people makes the wealth of states,” said Frederick the Great.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pronatalism acquired a specious scientific aura from social Darwinism and eugenics. Even today, some economists argue, incorrectly, that population growth is required for economic growth and that Africa is underpopulated.

This view made some sense for societies subject to catastrophic mortality from famines, plagues and wars. But it has outlived its usefulness now that human consumption, and pollution, loom large across the earth.

We can of course continue to ignore these dire warnings which keep being compounded by wars, which are now seemingly mostly motivated by religious zealots, but of course like all religions ultimately motivated by the lust for hegemony.

Ok, of course there is the atheist dictator, Russia’s Putin. In a speech attributed to Vladimir he jauntily proclaimed:

Vladimir Putin’s speech

On August 04, 2013, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, addressed the Duma, (Russian Parliament), and gave a speech about the tensions with minorities in Russia:

“In Russia, live like Russians. Any minority, from anywhere, if it wants to live in Russia, to work and eat in Russia, it should speak Russian, and should respect the Russian laws. If they prefer Sharia Law, and live the life of Muslim’s then we advise them to go to those places where that’s the state law.

“Russia does not need Muslim minorities. Minorities need Russia, and we will not grant them special privileges, or try to change our laws to fit their desires, no matter how loud they yell ‘discrimination’. We will not tolerate disrespect of our Russian culture. We better learn from the suicides of America, England, Holland and France, if we are to survive as a nation. The Muslims are taking over those countries and they will not take over Russia. The Russian customs and traditions are not compatible with the lack of culture or the primitive ways of Sharia Law and Muslims. “When this honorable legislative body thinks of creating new laws, it should have in mind the Russian national interest first, observing that the Muslims Minorities Are Not Russians.”

The politicians in the Duma gave Putin a five minute standing ovation.

Vlad, this seems like darn good secular advice for governance. Too bad you don’t believe in human rights and the freedoms our forefathers bequeathed to us.

I am not anti-Muslim or any religion so long as its actions don’t impinge or intend to impinge on my civil rights, but of course all of them DO! Or at least try to. And as the splendid article this site recently ran with attribution, religious training for kids dulls their ability to think rationally. Not great training for managing the world now evolving.

And as far as exhibiting aggressive behavior, let’s look to our own expansionist policies which go back to TR Roosevelt and even before. Now it seems our present leaders are ready at the drop of a lopped head or two to initiate a long term military action without Congressional approval, which most members in Congress appear to not want to contest until after they are safely elected in November. Ops, so much for truly participatory government??

Back to population growth. When in the early 1990’s HIV/AIDs incidents reached breathtaking proportions before retroviral drugs became widely available over 50 million worldwide were affected, a number which may still prevail. However, with the planet adding 80 million net humans per annum, even if all those HIV/AIDS sufferers died, they would be replaced in less than a year. Now we are told that this Ebola crisis could affect over a million people very shortly. Again just a blip on the track to billions more people added to our planet in this century.

Any more gentle solutions to this overpopulation problem must come from secular realism not from the repressive attitudes about women’s reproductive rights offered by the RCC and Islam and too many other evangelical worthies.

This column like so many others before it will suffer little attention. However, I will find little solace in being able, if I am still around when a vast human holocaust occurs, to say I was correct in my analysis.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
Kindle Store

Final Warning – Limits to Growth

Overpopulation facts – the problem no one will discuss: Alexandra Paul at TED

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