Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Blunder of Eternal Proportions

     Sometimes, when scientists are wrong it is no big deal.  You mean coffee is not bad for me? Cool, pour me a cup. But other times, scientists get it so wrong it can affect the world. Consider the over-population myth. I’m not giving scientists complete blame, but years of over-population fears and dire predictions certainly accounts for some missing people. The alarmists were wrong.

     The world’s population growth has slowed. It was announced last year by the U.S. Census Bureau that the 7 billionth person was born. Environmentalists have been frantic over the planet’s ability to sustain human life at least since the Sixties. Well, before that too, but it became epidemic along with the sex, drugs and rock-and-roll crowd. (Our first clue.)
     The realization is  dawning that over-population may not be a problem after all. It took humanity 13 years to go from 6 to 7 billion. That’s one year longer than the 12 years it took to go from 5 to 6 billionth—the first time in recorded history that population growth has slowed. (From 2 to 3 billion took 123 years; 3 to 4 billion took 33 years; 4-5 took fourteen years; and 5-6 took 13 years.) 
     Scientists are now actually predicting population will soon decline. A team at Austria's International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has predicted that the world population is likely to peak at about 9 billion and by 2100, it will have gone down to 8.4 billion and keep falling.
     Ironically—and tragically—under-population may be the next world concern, although many developed countries are already in that phase.
In Germany, the rate of birth has sunk to just 1.36, worse even than its low-fertility neighbors Spain (1.48) and Italy (1.4). Western Europe is expected to lose over 100 million by the end of the century, from 460 million to 350 million. Russia and China are both in a steep downward spiral, each of whose populations could fall by half.
     Perhaps we do not hear much about the population decline in this country because immigration has kept us afloat—padding the population while also increasing the birthrate with larger families than native-born citizens. But the immigrant boost is expected to decline. Last month, the Pew Research Center reported that immigrant births fell from 102 per 1,000 women in 2007 to 87.8 per 1,000 in 2012. The overall U.S. birthrate has fallen by 8% over the last four years, to 64 per 1,000 women.
     According to the Population Reference Bureau, fertility rates in the United States have fallen since 1990 among all major racial/ethnic groups. The Latina fertility rate dropped sharply in recent decades, from 3.0 births per woman in 1990 to 2.4 births per woman in 2010; and for black women from 2.5 to 2.0. Fertility rates among white and Asian women have also dropped.
     Even countries with traditionally high birth rates are declining. Mexico’s fertility rate dropped from 7.3 births per woman to 2.4, from 1960 to 2009.  India’s dropped from six to 2.5, and Brazil’s fell from 6.15 to 1.9. In sub-Saharan Africa, fertility is projected to fall below replacement level by the 2070s.
     Scientists are now scrambling for an explanation. Some hypothesize that having many children was once a way to stave off the large numbers lost to natural disasters and childhood diseases. Also, they point to poverty as a reason for big families and say that with improved economic conditions families get smaller.
     I’m no scientist, but this explanation is lacking.  It leaves out the fact that from Biblical times, children were thought to be a blessing while in modern societies have been brainwashed into thinking two kids is enough since any more drains resources and free time. Contraception and abortion have killed 55 million babies in this country alone since abortion has been legal for the last 40 years. And China’s forced one-child policy is hardly a matter of nature taking its course in demographics.
     According to a 2008 IIASA report, if the world stabilizes at a total fertility rate of 1.5—where Europe is today—then by 2200 the global population will fall to half of what it is today. By 2300, it’ll barely reach 1 billion. It’s guesswork, and we know where that has gotten scientists in the past, but the fact is that fewer babies are being born. The other fact is that in countries such as Russia, Sweden, and Singapore where the governments offer incentives to women to have more babies, they are not taking the bait.
     In developed countries, it looks like the Zero Population Growth mongers will get their way.   Education and lifestyle trump having big families.  Couples delay marriage and delay families. Women contracept and unborn babies are aborted. However, you would think that by now the alarmists would have slunk away into oblivion; shunned and humiliated by their outlandish guffaw. Well, it’s hard to believe, but they are still at it. I suppose they figure people have fallen for lies and bad science before so long, why stop now?
     Zero Population Growth (ZPG), co-founded in 1968 by Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb has changed their name to Population Connection. They have the nerve to state on their website: “We were the first ones to bring the population crisis to the attention of the nation, and indeed, the world! Today we continue our mission as Population Connection through education, advocacy, and outreach to spread our urgent message.” 
     They know all about the projections of a declining world population.  They pose the question: “Are We Running Out of People?Silly Slate (refers to this article on Slate ) piece suggests that humans might go extinct. Apart from life-on-Earth-ending asteroids or viruses, that scenario is laughable.”
     We should expect no apology from them for a shrinking world. Instead, they see themselves as heroes for leaving holes in families where children would have been so that now there’s more room for grass.
The Earth Was Never in Trouble
     Ironically, the earth was never really in trouble to begin with. Dr. Jacqueline R. Kasun is an economist and the author of The War Against Population: The Economics and Ideology of World 
Population Control (Ignatius, 1988, 1998).  According to her, regardless of what the numbers are, our earth has never been in danger of too many people. In her book, Kasun states: “It’s reported by Paul Ehrlich and others that human beings actually occupy no more than 1 to 3 percent of 
the earth's land surface. 

If you allotted 1250 square feet to each person, all the people in the world would fit
 into the state of Texas. Try the math yourself: 7,438,152,268,800 square feet in Texas,
 divided by the world population of 5,860,000,000, equals 1269 square feet per person. 
The population density of this giant city would be about 21,000 — somewhat more than
 San Francisco and less than the Bronx. 

         Regardless, the lies have been taken as fact and the world’s policy makers act accordingly.  Governments are committed to reduce worldwide population growth. 

Abortions and sterilizations are pushed and even forced on citizens with United Nations’ approval and often financing, while emergency aid to Third World countries has come to include free and sometimes coercive birth control.
        Our government schools teach kids in social studies that the earth is dying under the strain of people, then, when the bell rings the kids continue onto the next class where sex education teaches them how the various birth controls work to curb population growth.  Even our elementary-aged children come home from school, worried about our “dying” planet. It seems the height of irresponsibility to pass on lies and scare little children.  For some reason the media and education system listens to only one side of the story. 
Myths of Overpopulation
     Although you would never know this by listening to the evening news, the scientific community is in great disagreement over whether global warming is real and if there is a connection to overpopulation.  Kasun writes: “Seventy-nine scientists issued the "Leipzig Declaration" in 1995 saying ’ . . . There does not exist today a general scientific consensus about greenhouse warming
 . . ..’ Additionally, the satellite readings of global temperature, available on the NASA Web site
 at, do not show a warming trend.”
     At the root of this scare is the belief that too many people cause too many emissions, which causes the greenhouse effect, and also, a hole in the ozone. Again, there is a great dispute among scientists on ozone depletion and no one has ever proved anything.
     Overpopulation is also blamed for the deforestation of the planet.  Yet, according to Kasun, thirty percent of the earth is covered in trees, the same figure as in the 1950’s.  “Another fact: Trees are growing 33 percent faster than they are being cut... There has also been great agitation about the destruction of 
the tropical rainforests. Someone has claimed that an area twice the size of Belgium
 is now being logged worldwide each year, but people don't realize Belgium could fit 
into the world's tropical forests 500 times, and in the meantime, the rest of the world's 
trees — 99.6 percent of them — are continuing to grow.”
     Air pollution and acid rain are also blamed on overpopulation. Air pollution is largely a result of how industries do business. Due to greater emissions controls, it is declining significantly in the United States.  Blaming it on more babies being born is a cop out.
     During the sixties and seventies, the inability to feed ourselves was supposed to be just around the corner. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, world food supplies exceed requirements
 in all world areas, amounting to a surplus approaching 50 percent in the developed
 countries, and 17 percent in the developing regions. Our own government actually pays farmers not to farm 33.5 million acres. 
     News coverage of famines is often photo opportunities for the media to massage the overpopulation myth.  But famines are caused by extreme droughts, war, ineptitude, or corrupt governments, not because there are too many people to feed.
     Kasun reports: “Western journalists blamed the Ethiopian famine on ‘overpopulation,’ 
but that was simply not true. The Ethiopian government caused it by confiscating the food stocks of traders and farmers and exporting them to buy arms. That country's leftist 
regime, not its population, caused the tragedy. 
 In fact, Africa, beset with problems often blamed on ‘overpopulation,’ has only one-fifth 
the population density of Europe…”
     The cry that our natural resources are in short supply has an ebb and flow to it.  Some may remember the “energy crises” in the seventies.  It was a year that people stopped hanging outdoor Christmas lights because our energy was in short supply.  I lived in the Detroit area and our family tradition of driving around to look at lights came to an abrupt halt. No one dared to waste energy on something as frivolous as Christmas lights.  Oddly enough, thirty years later there seems to be ample energy for all our lights. Not surprisingly, many experts believe that our natural resources are plentiful and we have nothing to fear.  Others believe that technology is always coming up with sources of alternative energy sources.
     The bottom line is that God if all knowing and he would not have created a world we would outgrow. But sadly, even if all the population scares are explained away, our culture has lost its love affair with children. More creature comforts and advantages are seen as more desirable than children.
     Several years ago, I heard a radio report that the #1 request from children to in-store Santa Clauses were for little brothers or sisters.  For them, it’s the best gift they can imagine. Many adults have forgotten this.

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My latest books, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families, and children’s book, Dear God, I Don't Get It  (Available for pre-order now!) will both be released in April. 



  1. My most poignant sorrow is from not having had more children.

  2. Thank you for your comments. Faustina, I share your sorrow. I had 8 children and adopted 2 more for 10 total, so it might seem like I'm crazy to say that. But for years, we avoided pregnancy and my husband even had a vasectomy which was reversed when we came to appreciate the eternal awesomeness of life and truth of Catholic teaching on life. I thank God that we came to understand soon enough to have four more children. I understand completely couples who were led astray as we once were. It makes me angry that so many have been lied to and convinced avoiding children was the right decision--the responsible decision.

  3. About 35 years ago, the NY Times did a piece on my large family (I'm the 14th of 16 children) and my parents received hundreds of pieces of hate mail. As I read this article, I can't help but thank God that my parents' faith was not in science, but in God, and that they had all the children God granted them. Thanks for uncovering the truth, Patti. Now, the next "scientific fact" to be uncovered: "global warming"!

  4. What a pleasure to receive your comments. So sad about the hate mail. People were brainwashed. When the media and scientists and environmentalist were all acting like too many people were destroying our planet, they got people all upset. Big families became the enemy. Now, so many countries need big families. We are the greatest natural resource.
    How wonderful that you are a "happy nun". God bless you.


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