Lancet Population Study Badly Misses The Point!

By Donald A. Collins | 21 July 2020
Church and State

(Image by sumiz razthala from Pixabay)

The NY Times reported on July 16th that “World Population Could Peak Decades Ahead of U.N. Forecast” and that “The study, published in The Lancet, said an accelerated decline in fertility rates means the global population could peak in 2064 at 9.7 billion and fall to 8.8 billion by century’s end.” This seemed to its authors to be really bad news in that population drops needed to be replaced by immigration.

Population Media, a highly respected authority specializing in population studies just reported “The Lancet published a paper on July 16th that modeled new population scenarios for 195 countries through the year 2100.” The media gave it immediate coverage which included a BBC headline that said, “Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born.” The NY Times and the Guardian had similar stories with the same tone, which was how serious for the planet if there existed the possibility of population growth stopping!

One friend emailed us news of this Lancet study, to which I replied “Your July 16, 2020 email awakened me with a start, as its tone of okayism for growth to a level at 8.8 by 2100 was truly distressing. We can’t handle 7.8 now!!!!!!!!!!”

Since the effect of burgeoning human numbers has been a subject of concern for many experts for decades, it seems obvious that this report should at least be challenged.

Let me begin by complimenting the funders of this study, the Gates family, not for this study but for their steadfast efforts to use their wealth to make our world a better place.

Any reference to their largesse reveals a deep concern for world problems and for finding ways of improving them. Adding more people than our earth can support is NOT one of them.

Permit me a bit of personal history in support of that now obvious fact about the harm of human expansion.

I spent almost a decade from 1965 to 1973 as what is perhaps humorously known as a philanthropoid (e.g. someone who assists philanthropists to find good places to invest in charitable projects.) My main philanthropist, a farsighted woman, wanted to help women get easier access to all reproductive choices including abortions. That latter service before Roe in 1973 (and even now so long after) was so often impossible to get safely or legally. Among several initiatives an NGO called IPAS was started on my watch which led the way overseas in offering early menstrual regulations with MR kits provided by US makers.

As such, because of my philanthropist’s foresight and wealth, I was put on the National Board of Planned Parenthood of America in NYC in 1967. That board then had over 100 members one of whom was Bill Gates Sr.

From PPFA President Dr Alan Guttmacher and many other experts I received in my six year two term tenure a rapid and powerful education in how urgently needed were more women’s reproductive services both here in the USA and all over the world.

In 1973 after leaving my charitable foundation’s employ and forming my own activist NGO, I continued for decades to serve on the boards of the several others I had earlier helped start. In the process, I learned firsthand that the enemies of family planning and women’s reproductive rights were active everywhere both here and overseas.

That women were and still are treated subserviently far too often was obviously clear to me very early in that education.

What was not as clear to me then but evident to distinguished demographers such as Frank Notestein who in 1936 had founded the Office of Population Research at Princeton, then in 1959 was named by John Rockefeller to be the 3rd President of the Population Council in NYC he founded in 1952: the world’s human numbers were rapidly growing!

At a meeting at the Council in the late 1960’s—Frank served as PC President until he retired in 1968—Frank invited me, the utter neophyte to attend along with about 10 noted academics such as Frank’s PC successor as President Bernard Berelson the behavioral scientist. Most of these famous experts there predicted numbers would be constrained by natural forces. But one attendee who strongly disagreed was UC Santa Cruz Professor Garrett Hardin whose classic 1968 essay “Tragedy of the Commons” and other writings on the effect of global limits have sadly come true.

That is what brings me to the Lancer study which has to be some of the most intellectually fatuous scholarship yet on the effect of human numbers and on all living flora and fauna on Planet Earth.

But note, Gates just gave Lancet the money but did not write this misleading report.

As I have earlier written—more than once—in one lifetime, mine (born 1931), total world population has gone from 2 billion humans to almost 8 and US population from 130 million to about 340 million.

One expert on calculating human numbers just emailed me after reading of this Lancet study,

“My thoughts on the study are that we will add 1.5 million net growth THIS WEEK. All these soothsayers are not worth worrying about very much in any practical way; they can’t help themselves, as in some senses they are academics who need to make models to justify their salary. I am sure these authors are experts in their craft, and studiously worked on their assumptions and models, but in the end I’m more interested in changing reality now, rather than shifting assumptions about the future. The press is generally pro-growth, so if they hear population might someday, in the distant future, stop growing, they panic because they can’t comprehend a sustainable alternative. We just need to keep doing what we are doing as best as we can—lowering ideal family sizes, busting bias against contraception, and trying to help women achieve their autonomy.”

Family planning methods for women are critically needed but will need to be augmented by the avid pursuit of the moderate and certainly achievable if adopted goals set forth on the Population Media web site.

But lacking wider understanding from all world leaders of how women have been denigrated and still are as to full equality is a long way from happening.

Failure to grasp this looming disaster, makes one mindful of the vital current wake up call on racism symbolized finally with murder of George Floyd along with the Trumpian dismissal of Coronavirus pandemic which now rages here and overseas.

You can rapidly get the urgency of the world crisis of too many people by going to the web site of the Population Media Center (PMC) whose leader Bill Ryerson understood early what my friend Garrett Hardin and so many others had been preaching for years.

Lancet’s study symbolizes the level of profound ignorance of limits. Continuing to ignore PMC’s practical, achievable solutions can only lead to more disastrous results.

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

World population likely to shrink after 2064: Lancet

Jane Goodall @ Population Matters Conference 2019

Sir David Attenborough on Overpopulation

The Threat of Overpopulation

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