What I have written here was inspired by a letter received from knowledgeable friends who had pondered this question of why so few of us seem worried about population growth. Their email to me can be found below.
Many distinguished scholars have written often on this site and elsewhere about the growth of human numbers.
For example, in my 90 year old lifetime population has gone from 2 billion to nearly 8 billion today. In short, there has been a cancerous like growth problem of human numbers which we must solve or face diminution in the quality of life on earth.
Optimists argue that things are getting better all the time, fewer are starving, etc and that our population growth is healthy and sustainable. Forever??
Despite presenting the scientific validity against such Pollyanna projections by many eminent experts such as Sir David Attenborough no real effort from top world leadership speaks to the urgency of at least trying to stabilize numbers now and then seeking to reduce our human numbers over time.
The “why not” to that position is that growth is being constantly flogged by most of those in power and by mindless behavior about human reproduction by the majority of us humans.
Huge pushers for growth are the world’s religions which seek to match numbers against each other worldwide. Even as the numbers of believers has declined in many places including the USA, the atheists or other nonbelievers are loath to attract attacks from these oft violent believers. So even though the unchurched or non-mosque goers must not be unhappy to find more and more people are not being religious, but they don’t provide many voices against population growth.
The kind of insanity pushed by religion is exemplified in the attachments below.
Then large nations such as China or the Soviet Union with no state religions certainly want fealty to their secular authority which otherwise attracts harsh punishment if not death as in Myanmar (Burma) right now.
Perhaps the most influential force against reducing growth in human numbers must be the vast power of businesses whose mantras feature endless plans to grow just to meet the needs of this constant growth. More, more, more seems better and better.
And then there are us human consumers with our appetites fully stimulated for endless consumption.
Hardly a promising atmosphere for restraint.
But with Mother Nature’s forces now the only enforcing limits to human numbers growth we find our new President Biden embracing climate change. At least that implies a limit to growth.
But I know of no proposed solutions to climate change that include calls for efforts to cut human numbers.
Our growing weather disasters don’t elicit calls for fewer of us either.
And one would think our global pandemic might suggest a need for human numbers limitation, but I haven’t heard any calls from major world leaders for fewer human numbers! Just for more vaccines and treatment equipment. New pandemics are surely predictable but losing people to disease is not a reduction method we find attractive. Or is it if we do nothing about human numbers.
Family planning is still the key path to lessening human numbers safely and humanely. There are so many methods now available which can safely bring fertility regulation to anyone who wants it. Massive further such funding is needed, but the funding for war ironically surpasses so many other priorities which would help humans. Killing our way with war to fewer won’t work as we have proved often. However, nukes would certainly do the job.
So, as I recently wrote, despite urgent pleas for more family planning from NGOs such as Population Connection and scientific voices like E.O. Wilson, the only real effective restraints on the continuing increase in human numbers has been left to the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse—variously called war, famine, pestilence and disease—while the rich get richer and mostly ignore these burgeoning threats like those nobles in Edgar Allen Poe’s classic The Masque of the Red Death.
It would seem that here is no hope.
However, despite what I have written here, I believe that we are approaching a time of a great awakening. We now know, as we press outward into space, that, as Copernicus proposed and Galileo proved, we are not the center of our solar system, as we are likely not alone in the vast as yet unreachable solar systems of other stars, surrounded by many planets which look like Earth.
How can we continue to be so mindless in not dealing with limits on our tiny planet??
March 15, 2021
Dear Don and Sally,
We seek your counsel, Maestro.
We have been dismayed that the population issue has vanished from environmental groups agenda the past 20 years in this country.
Our interest was sparked by the Ehrlichs’ work in 1968.
We made a small gift to the Population Connection last year and have been quite impressed by what they do and where their emphasis falls.
For example, they cite, crisply and deftly:
— Population growth will be among the main challenges for development and peace.
— The least peaceful countries will have an additional 1.3 billion people and will be home to more than half of the world’s population.
— There is now 60% less fresh water.
— 1% of people are responsible for half of all aviation emissions.
— Trump left International Abortion Rights in Shambles… Biden vowed to repeal the Global Gag Rule.
and so forth and so on … stuff you already know and have written about at length.
When I ran a foundation, we poured a half a million a year into population through the Pop Counsel, Planned Parenthood, and other channels.
Do you have a clear take? Supposedly they support ZPG.
Name withheld for privacy sake
McConnell pointed out that eventually Republicans would be in a position to rule the Senate without a filibuster. "Imagine what they might pass? Mr. McConnell gave a few examples—defunding Planned Parenthood…" https://t.co/bdpq6KpuvL
— Church and State (@ChurchAndStateN) March 17, 2021
From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013
By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
Human Impact on the Environment
We need IMMEDIATE action to stop extinction crisis, David Attenborough – BBC
The Advice Sir David Attenborough Needs You To Hear
Sir David Attenborough on overpopulation
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