When Will We Act On Population Limits?

By Donald A. Collins | 24 June 2020
Church and State

(Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

On June 21st on a program developed by the World Information Transfer (WIT), a United Nations affiliated project, my wife and I listened to this one hour WIT program at which John Rohe, Vice President at the Colcom Foundation in Pittsburgh provided a masterful talk which analyses the roots of our explosive world population growth, tying it to the recent very modest celebration of the latest Earth Day Anniversary as compared to its first mass gatherings around the USA 50 years ago. Riveting listening.

Daily media coverage of the growing world wide human tragedies makes more obvious that our human numbers have overwhelmed the capacity of our Earth to offer adequate succor to the present numbers of humans living today. Listening to this well done recitation of the history of our first Earth Day will greatly inform and concern any listener. Should you have questions or comments they can be directed to him at jrohe@colcomfdn.org.

I particularly appreciated his succinct and telling story of Earth Day’s history, how Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson got it going, gaining in 1970 perhaps then or since the largest bipartisan national recognition on the overpopulation issue ever!

1970 also coincided with the warning from miracle rice inventor, Norman Borlaug, who in his 1970 Nobel Prize acceptance speech admonished the world to limit human numbers in the next generation or face the consequences of mass starvation! That of course has occurred.

My April 2020 op ed on Borlaug’s fateful warning and the text of his speech can be read here.

One of the original pioneers for population limitation in the 1960’s and 70’s was General William H. Draper Jr, who after a multifaceted career in the US Army, Wall Street banking and US government, was able at that time to gain important private meetings with many influentials in high places.

Draper, a co-founder of the prestigious Population Crisis Committee, phoned me one day in 1968 saying he had just met with the President. I thought at first he meant then President Lyndon Johnson. “No”, he said, “Ike” who was in Palm Springs recovering from his heart problems! Retired President Dwight Eisenhower, who died in 1969, had been persuaded by Bill Draper, to change his mind about the need for the US government to fund the family planning programs Bill had proposed. Draper, who at that time could reach almost anyone high in government, sadly died a few years later in 1974 just after the US Supreme Court decision on Roe vs Wade came down on January 23, 1973. Then the Roman Catholic hierarchy turned its immense power not only against early safe abortion for women but also against birth control generally, an effort which surely helped produce the excessive human numbers we have today.

In 1970 on the first Earth Day my colleagues and I flew to Chicago to attend part of the extensive planned festivities. There I met some of the early heroes whose names I now sadly forget, but at a large well attended lunch I sat next to a young man named Denis Hayes whose rhetoric sounded very confrontational to me at that time. He was so right and at the time, I did not realize how right he was.

Mr. Rohe’s manner of presentation in his WIT speech was especially effective because, as you can hear, he always had the facts yet stated them in a calm almost avuncular voice of reason, one seeming to encourage any and all questions.

As noted, if you have questions, his email appears above. He served in his youth as a US Peace Corps volunteer, an experience obviously equipping him for his lifelong pursuit of this overpopulation issue.

In his June 21, 2020 presentation, Rohe’s use of the word “respect” in connection with enhancing women’s rights rings so true. Why not? He noted the major impediments to women gaining greater respect which include overt male egos, religious restrictions and many local cultural biases.

Pope Francis’ mild recent support for some family planning remains inadequate and widely inhibiting of progress.

Altogether I found this WIS UN talk followed by questions and comments from associates very illuminating. As noted in my recent op ed pieces, in one lifetime, MINE, we have gone from a world population of 2 billion people in 1931 to nearly 8 billion now. One of my recent pieces can be accessed here.

Rohe notes that every day our planet adds approximately 250,000 net new arrivals–births over deaths!! Total Covid 19 deaths since the virus’ outbreak less than a year ago number nearly 130,000 in the USA over 470,000 worldwide. Thus in less than 2 days, new births replace the total of all Covid-19 deaths so far.

Many Americans unbelievably seem to think we are safe, but the Growth As Fixated Foundation (GAFFE) of our economy as I deem it, has hooked us into the dangerous drug of runaway consumerism which Mr. Rohe points out will be one of the hardest bad habits we could readily change. How many excess duplicates of everything do we need and how much trash can we fail to recycle before destroying our environment?

Our massive human numbers greatly reduce the chances for keeping or expanding democracy and precious human freedom. Ominously as we read or hear daily about increasing human conflicts, those situations can readily lead to major wars instead of the seemingly innumerable little wars going on now. The time to act decisively in NOW.

As environmentalist David Attenborough gave us a plausible benign way to solve the problem when he said, “You’ll discover in countries where women have control over their own bodies, where they have education, where they have birth control, where they have facilities and where they are literate, when those things happen, the birth rate falls.”

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

Remembering the First Earth Day, conversation with Mr. John Rohe

‘The Earth Day Story’ by Denis Hayes

David Attenborough | “The source of all our problems = POPULATION GROWTH”

ENDGAME 2050 | Full Documentary [Official]

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