Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Overpopulation Lie

 "World population increased not because people were breeding like rabbits, but because they stopped dying like flies." - Earth Report 2000

Many people believe that overpopulation is the greatest threat to the world's security and prosperity. The word “overpopulation” is tossed around repeatedly as the cause of a global crisis.  The overpopulation doom-sayers are always at it but overpopulation alarmism isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous. It has been used to justify draconian forced sterilisations and actions like China’s One-Child Policy. Eugenic social engineering for population control is not just a problem of the past – it is still being advocated today. 

Simply put, the world's population is increasing because the number of births outnumbers deaths by three to one. A surplus of births first occurred two centuries ago in Europe and North America, when mortality started to decline. This marked the beginning of what scientists call the demographic transition which has subsequently spread to the rest of the planet as social and economic progress, combined with advances in hygiene and medicine, began to reduce mortality rates. The annual population growth rate actually peaked half a century ago at more than 2%, and has fallen by half since then, to 1.1% in 2017. This trend should continue in coming decades because fertility is decreasing at global level, from 5 children per woman in 1950 to 2.5 today. In 2017, the regions where fertility remains high (above 3 children per woman) include most countries of sub-Saharan Africa and an area stretching from Afghanistan to northern India and Pakistan. These are the regions that will drive future world population growth.

Fertility is, in fact, decreasing in Africa, but so far only among the educated and urban populations and not in rural areas where most of the population still lives. While the fertility decline is still slower than that observed some decades ago in Asia and Latin America, the reason does not lie in an unwillingness to use contraception. While most rural families have yet to adopt a two-child family model, they would prefer to have fewer children and to space them further apart. They are willing to use contraception for this purpose, but the necessary services are not available to them. National birth-control programmes do exist but are ineffective because they lack resources and, above all, because their organisers and the personnel responsible for implementing them are unenthusiastic. Many are not convinced of the advantages of birth control, even at government level, even if this is not the official line adopted with respect to international organisations

Total world population should plateau at about 13 billion by 2100, and actually decline thereafter. Other projections, like that of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, are more optimistic, suggesting that total fertility rate will drop below replacement rate in the 2070s, plateauing around the 9 billion mark. This worry about overpopulation started back in 1968 with Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb but way back in 1798, Thomas Malthus wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population, proposing the idea that limited resources can only sustain so much.

Draconian measures driven by xenophobic prejudice are not necessary to slow the expansion of our numbers. Nor do we need pandemics, famines or wars to cull our numbers. So long as we continue to promote education, public health and access to contraception, our numbers are likely to decline naturally. Approximately 34% of the population was probably unwanted or accidental. This is universal. It is caused by cases of unwanted pregnancies by young girls as well as poor family planning methods. Studies show that women with access to reproductive health services find it easier to break out of poverty, while those who work are more likely to use birth control. Simply educating men and women about contraception can have a big impact. When Iran introduced a national family planning programme in 1989, its fertility rate fell from 5.6 births per woman to 2.6 in a decade. A similar effort in Rwanda saw a threefold increase in contraception usage in just five years.

The rate of population growth has slowed down. Yes, it is true that the world's numbers is increasing. Nonetheless, it is growing at a slower rate than it was about 10 years ago, which is 1.24% then compared to 1.18% now. The increase in the life expectancy level has also played a role in overpopulation. This is brought about by the fact people are living for a longer time than they did, say 50 years ago. For instance, in 1950, males had a life expectancy level of 66 years whereas as of now, it is at 74 years. There are about 44 countries that have fertility rates lower than the replacement level. This means that for these countries, as other countries increase in population, they will face a decline in their population. In addition, most of these countries are developed countries. Overpopulation has been realized due to a decrease in death rates rather than birthrates. There have been advancements in the fields of medicine, technology, education and nutrition which have contributed to lower deaths.
According to the CIA World Factbookthe current US fertility rate is 1.87. (The fertility rate is the average number of children a woman has over her lifetime.The fertility rate necessary to simply replace the parents is approximately 2.1 Last year Japan’s birthrate fell below 1 million for the first time, while 1.3 million deaths were recorded. Since 2010 Japan’s population has shrunk by approximately 1.2 million (or roughly 1%). And they aren’t the only country shrinking; Russia has roughly 4 million less citizens than it had in 1995. We can see in Europe that population has levelled off, with deaths exceeding births for the first time in 2015, so growth is due only to immigration, not procreation. In Canada, too, its people are not having children at replacement levels – whereas we would need 2.1 children born per woman to maintain a stable population (this number is slightly over 2, to account for children who don’t survive childhood), Canada's birthrate is only 1.6.  There are problems that come with this, as an aging population doesn’t have enough young people to care for it. According to Philip Longman of the New America Foundation, "Global fertility rates are half what they were in 1972  studies show that population growth, which supplies an increasing source of workers and consumers, is vital to maintaining a stable economy, national strength and security, and ultimately a free society. However, this information isn't getting to the average person.
Maintaining sufficient workers to share the economic burden of providing Social Security and medical care for the elderly proves crucial to a population that exhibits increased life expectancy. When considering that there are currently 26 elders (those 65 and older) for every 100 working-age adults (20–64), the future looks bleak. Predictions show 42 per 100 by 2030 and 49 per 100 by 2050. Carl Haub, of the Population Reference Bureau, believes tinkering with the economy and adjusting the retirement age will not solve the problem. He says, "You can't keep going with a completely upside-down age can't have a country where everybody lives in a nursing home."
The wealthiest nations in the world — Macau, Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong, to name just a few — are also the most densely populated. They enjoy the highest standards of living and the most thriving economies. It's more often the case that the least populated countries — many of them in Africa: Central African Republic, Congo, Liberia, Mozambique, among others — are the poorest.
Overpopulation occurs when the ecological footprint of a human population in a specific geographical location exceeds the carrying capacity of the place occupied by that group. Let's look at one aspect of that description — namely, population density. Let's put you to a test. See whether you can tell which country is richer and which is poorer just by knowing two countries' population density. North Korea's population density is 518 people per square mile, whereas South Korea's is more than double that, at 1,261 people per square mile. Hong Kong's population density is 16,444, whereas Somalia's is 36. Congo has 75 people per square mile, whereas Singapore has 18,513. Look at the gross domestic products of these countries, one would have to be a lunatic to believe that a smaller population density leads to greater riches. Here are some GDP data expressed in millions of U.S. dollars: North Korea ($17,396), South Korea ($1,411,246), Hong Kong ($320,668), Somalia ($5,707), Congo ($41,615) and Singapore ($296,967
Capitalism, not population is the main driver of our planet's ecological collapse. Overconsumption is a greater issue than overpopulation. It is now being realized that 20% of the extremely rich consume 85% while 20% of those under the poverty line consume 1.3%. The water consumption for both extremes is at 85% and 15% respectively. The human population has roughly tripled since WWII. But our consumption of resources has multiplied many many times greater than population growth: We use something like 6 times as much steel as in 1950, 15 times as much aluminium, thousands of times more plastic and on and on. That ravenous overconsumption of resources, and its associated pollution is overwhelmingly driven by the requirements of capitalist reproduction, the ceaseless creation of new but unnecessary needs, not by human reproduction.  The entire premise behind population control is also based on the faulty logic that humans are not valuable resources.  Human beings are valuable resources, and the more we have of them the better. The greatest threat to mankind's prosperity is capitalism, not population growth. Blaming poverty on overpopulation not only lets the capitalist system off the hook but also encourages the enactment of harmful, inhumane policies. The problem we are facing today is not about overpopulation, but about the unequal ownership of wealth and resources. To reach a world of abundance we need to rebuild the fundamental ways we create our wealth and use our resources which, of course, not as easy a task as presenting simplistic solutions such as reducing the number of people in the world.
It took wealthy nations like the United Kingdom a century for fertility rates to fall from over six babies per woman to fewer than three per woman. It took China and Iran a mere decade, because economic and human development initiatives are better understood and better targeted. There is every expectation that current nations with high fertility rates, like Niger and Somalia, can perform similarly.
The Kimberly-Clark corporation, who makes products for family, baby and child care, recently announced that it was going to cut 5,500 jobs. This accounts for roughly 13 percent of its total global workforce with the result of either closing or selling 10 of its 91 international factories. Two of its brands, Kleenex and Huggies have seen significant drops in sales, thus the need to restructure and to streamline business costs. When the CEO, Tom Falk, was asked why this was happening, he stated that Americans are having fewer babies. Falk went on to say, “You can’t encourage moms to use more diapers in developed markets when the babies aren’t being born in those markets.”
Many of us have grown up on stories of overpopulation so it isn't easy to jettison them as wrong. The world population will inevitably increase by 2 to 3 billion between now and 2050 because of demographic inertia that no one can prevent. Nonetheless, we have the power to change our way of living – and there is an urgent need to do so – by ensuring greater respect for the environment and more efficient use of natural resources. All in all, the long-term survival of humankind depends on the establishment of socialism.
Post Script
New York City, which is far and away the most populous city in the U.S., was home to an estimated 8.5 million people in 2016. More people live in this one city than in the entire states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Vermont, and the District of Columbia combined.
New York City consists of five boroughs spanning five counties, the most densely populated of which is New York County. This county, which consists principally of the island of Manhattan, is far and away the most densely populated county in the U.S., housing 72,000 people per square mile. At that population density, the entire population of the United States, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories could reside in the tiny State of Connecticut.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of New York County in 2016 was 1,643,734. But of course, that’s just the number of people who live in the county. The number of people who commute into Manhattan every day increases the actual population of the island by several millions more. The New York State Government estimates that the population of New York County swells to about 3.9 million people on an average business day.

The second most densely populated county in the U.S., Kings County (better known as Brooklyn), lies just across the East River from Manhattan. At 37,000 people per square mile, Brooklyn has slightly less than half the population density of Manhattan. The top four most densely populated counties in America are all in New York City. The most densely populated county in the U.S. outside of New York City is San Francisco County, which has only a quarter of the population density of New York County. If all Americans lived at the same population density as the average population density of all five of New York City’s boroughs (approximately 28,000 people per square mile), we’d all fit comfortably in the combined area of Delaware and Maryland.
While New York City is rather densely populated, it certainly is not an uncomfortable place to live in terms of space. Besides, many cities in other countries are far more densely populated. Monaco, for instance, has a population density of over 48,000 people per square mile.
Let’s continue to see how the U.S. population could hypothetically be distributed if it were at, say, the density of Los Angeles County, California. While Los Angeles County encompasses the second most populous city in the country and a number of its neighbouring cities, it also includes expansive uninhabited areas including vast stretches of the Angeles and Los Padres national forests and the Santa Monica Mountains. Overall, the population density of Los Angeles County is about 11 times less dense than New York City and ranks 49th overall among U.S. counties nationwide.
Over 10 million or so people call Los Angeles County home. But if you know Los Angeles County, or are familiar with any of the counties listed above, you also know that life at this population density is quite comfortable, with plenty of parks, open spaces, and many acre sized residential properties.
From sea to shining sea, there is even more space still in America. At the same population density of Middlesex County, NJ, which is only a little more densely populated than Los Angeles County, the entire U.S. population could fit inside the state of New Mexico.
Does this mean that the entire population of the United States could actually fit into an area the size of New Mexico at this population density? Probably not. We would still need to figure of course, for sustainability and conservation. Nevertheless, the point is this: If America has enough elbow room to fit our entire population comfortably into an area the size of New Mexico, we probably have enough room for the other things as well. And the USA not going to be running out of room any time soon for more people to live an work.

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