We should acknowledge the impact that overpopulation is having on the planet

By Donald A. Collins | 18 May 2020
Church and State

(Photo: Jarod Carruthers / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

As we are struggling to get our country to the New Normal from the Coronavirus attacks, I was impressed to find what appeared on page one of the May 15 Washington Post story entitled “In poor nations, hunger may be the bigger killer” by Liz Sly who with collaboration from Heba Farouk Mahfouz in Cairo begins her 5/14/20 Beirut Lebanon byline saying:

The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic may prove more devastating than the disease itself for the world’s poorest countries as the global economy hurtles into recession, people lose jobs by the hundreds of millions and the risk of hunger grows, U.N. officials and aid experts fear.

For now at least, covid-19 seems to be largely a disease of the rich, developed world, with 74 percent of the 4.4 million cases reported worldwide occurring in North America and Europe, along with an overwhelming 85 percent of the deaths.

But it is in developing countries, where the vast majority of the world’s population lives, that the most damaging long-term repercussions could be felt, economists and U.N. officials say.

International agencies have released stark figures in recent weeks highlighting the risk that poverty and hunger could end up killing even more people worldwide than the 40 million victims that researchers had projected would die from the virus if no control measures were taken.

Some 1.6 billion of the world’s 2 billion informal workers, or nearly half the global workforce, have already lost their jobs, according to the International Labor Organization. They include gig workers in Western economies, but the vast majority are in developing countries, where most employment is informal and families live hand-to-mouth, relying on a daily wage if they are to eat at the end of the day.

The loss of income for people already living perilously close to the margins of survival will propel up to 50 million people into abject poverty this year, reversing three decades of gains in the war against deprivation, according to World Bank estimates. A study by the United Nations said 580 million could become impoverished, meaning they lack the basic means to survive.

So again the 1970 message from Nobelist Norman Borlaug who reminded us that feeding the world would become less possible if our human numbers kept growing beyond the 3.5 billion in 1970.

Now world population will reach 8 billion by 2025!

Sly’s carefully researched piece fills the entire Page 26 of the Post and its data and pictures are so clear that while COVID-19’s impact will be significant, those deaths will prove less devastating than deaths from starvation around the world.

As noted by Lawrence Haddad, executive director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, “You can get a victory on the health side of things but have a second losing battle on the food side.”


The diversion of resources from existing health programs to fight coronavirus could lead to as many as 1.2 million extra deaths among children under five over the next six months, or 6,000 a day, the U.N. Children’s Fund warned this week, citing a study by the Lancet Global Health journal.

So far, the most dire forecasts of widespread coronavirus contagion in poverty-stricken countries have not yet materialized. India and the continent of Africa account for one-third of the world’s population but have reported only three percent of the coronavirus case, a little more than 150,000 cases.

Low testing rates will likely explain the lower case numbers but not what seems to be lower death rates or the fact that hospitals and health systems are not being overwhelmed by large numbers of sick people. In India and Africa, about 3 percent of those who have tested positive have died, compared to 6 percent in the United States.

This article is well worth reading.

Those population limits have been so ignored that now gentle, safe, inexpensive family planning methods the world could have adopted in 1970, except for the strenuous objections from religious groups and indifference for world leaders generally, will be replaced by the Grim Reaper and the still future increases predicted to be 10 billion of us by 2050 will likely be impacted by tortuous deaths, starvation and the kind of potential violence we learn about now every day.

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)
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  1. Overpopulation is the basic problem that most of the world’s other problem stems from.
    The biggest problem though, is convincing people that it IS a problem.
    While attitudes of “It’s a distribution problem, not a population problem”, “God put us on the earth to have dominion over it” or “A growing population is vital for a healthy economy” remain prevalent, nothing will change.
    We can recycle all we want, adopt a carbon neutral lifestyle as much as we like, but if world population continues to increase, environmental degradation is inevitable.
    The rate of natural forest clearing and species loss should be ringing alarm bells, but people are more interested in wedding bells in the Kardashian family or the latest sport results.
    I guess that environmental issues don’t sell papers or “likes”.


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