Another Population Bomb?
Scientists are claiming the Earth’s human population hit
8 billion this month. But there are reasons to hope for more.
— It’s not quantity, but quality, that counts.—
Who would manage the Earth better: 8 billion wise men, or 2 billion fools? Think about it.
In our 26 April 2019 post, Dr Jerry Bergman told the tragic story of the “Population Bomb” myth of the 1960s, pushed by Paul Ehrlich. He was not only wrong, he was deadly wrong. Millions suffered because of his fake scare. The Chinese aborted 100 million babies in its “one-child policy” largely because of it, only to find out later it caused major social problems. Same with India. The “Population Bomb” proved to be “spectacularly wrong,” but Ehrlich never apologized and was never held accountable. Now 90, he still is respected by globalists and feels good about his work.
Did you think about our question above? Look at what The Smithsonian said in 2018 in its article, “The Book That Incited a Worldwide Fear of Overpopulation” by Charles C. Mann. The subtitle reads, “‘The Population Bomb’ made dire predictions—and triggered a wave of repression around the world.”
The book received furious denunciations, many focused on Ehrlich’s seeming decision—emphasized by the title—to focus on human numbers as the cause of environmental problems, rather than total consumption. The sheer count of people, the critics said, matters much less than what people do. Population per se is not at the root of the world’s problems. The reason, Ehrlich’s detractors said, is that people are not fungible—the impact of one living one kind of life is completely different from that of another person living another kind of life.
The impact of the wise is completely different from the impact of fools. Rather than forcing sterilizations, abortions and redistribution of wealth, would not a better strategy be to increase training in wisdom? Wise old Solomon wrote, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). This has nothing to do with “identity politics.” It deals with character. The wise can identify problems and solve them. The wise can plan ahead, rather than grasping at immediate gratification like fools do.
Note: Godly wisdom as Solomon viewed it, though, includes love, humility and altruism. The “worldly wise” are capable of dreaming up dystopian futures, like Brave New World, that would rob people of their human rights. Elitist schemes to prune human populations arbitrarily also are conceivable.
The New 8 Billion High Watermark
This month, scientists are claiming that the Earth’s human population is reaching 8 billion for the first time. Is that necessarily bad? And is there really a reason to fear the opposite, underpopulation?
Let’s talk overpopulation – and why low income countries aren’t the issue (The Conversation, 15 Nov 2022). Four authors explore the complexities of human population growth and decline, and discuss aspects such as declining fertility, momentum, and future trends. Notably, they point out the errors of Malthus and Ehrlich:
The modern fear of overpopulation has old roots. In 1798, Reverend Thomas Malthus warned population grows exponentially while food supply does not. Close to two centuries later, Paul and Anne Erlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb triggered a new wave of concern. As our numbers skyrocketed, they argued, we would inevitably hit a Malthusian cliff and run out of food. Famine and war would follow. It didn’t happen.
What resulted was inhumane population control policies. The book – replete with racially charged passages about a crowded Delhi “slum” – directly influenced India’s 1970s forced sterilisation policies. China’s notorious one-child policy emerged from similar concerns.
They discourage blame games and simplistic answers.
World population hits eight billion — here’s how researchers predict it will grow (Nature, 15 Nov 2022). OK, how will it grow? The subtitle reads, “United Nations model predicts a slower rate of population growth than was previously estimated.” Population is a dynamic variable. Population models are complex, requiring data from many people groups about fertility rates, birth rates, death rates, longevity trends, likelihood of natural disasters and wars, and advances in medicine that increase life expectancy.
The rapid rise in population throughout the twentieth century … was driven by advances in public health and medicine, which allowed more children to survive to adulthood. At the same time, fertility rates (defined as the number of children per woman) stayed high in lower-income countries.
Earth at 8 billion: Consumption not crowd is key to climate (Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, 15 Nov 2022). This article takes the typical leftist angle that the West and white people are causing all the climate change that is hurting the poor the most.
While more people consuming energy, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels, is warming the planet, the key issue isn’t the number of people as much as how a small fraction of those people are causing way more than their share of carbon pollution, several climate and population experts told The Associated Press.
World Population hits 8 billion, creating many challenges (Dan Ikpoyi and Chinedu Asadu, Associated Press, 15 November 2022). These authors claim that the poorest countries have the highest birth rates. Like Berenstein, Ikpoyi and Asadu get into climate change and equity issues, but admit, “Population is not the problem, the way we consume is the problem — let’s change our consumption patterns.”
Farming feeds the world. We desperately need to know how to do it better (Nature, 15 Nov 2022). Wise countries can do experimental science to increase productivity of farming. Nature‘s editors offer no solutions in this article.
8 billion people: how evolution made it happen (The Conversation, 15 Nov 2022). This piece by Matthew Wills (University of Bath) is too old-hat Darwinist for consideration. Malthus, Darwin, exponential growth, the whole gang make their appearances. Evolution produces viruses to keep our numbers in check. Good grief. If Wills were logical, he would admit that evolution is as evolution does. If the earth has too many people, so be it. They must be the fittest, at least for now.
Calls for a ‘one-child policy’ in India are misguided at best, and dangerous at worst (The Conversation, 14 Nov 2022). Two researchers at University of New South Wales, Sydney have learned a little bit of sense from China’s disastrous one-child policy. Now that some in India are thinking of employing something like that, or returning to earlier population control measures by sterilization, they shout, stop!
In both India and China, these population policies had unintended consequences.
In China, the government found that once fertility rates dropped, they were faced with an ageing population. Even after relaxing birth control policies to allow all couples to have two children in 2015, and three children in 2021, birth rates remain low, particularly among the urban middle class favoured by the government.
In both countries, skewed sex ratios caused by sex selective abortions have led to a range of social problems, including forced marriages and human trafficking.
China has found that despite reversing course, it cannot undo this rapid demographic transition. Urban, middle-class couples face mounting financial pressure, including the cost of raising children and of caring for the elderly. While the government has encouraged “high quality” urban women to give birth, rural and minority women are still discouraged from having more children.
They note an irony that India’s women are having fewer children on their own, by their own choices.
The Underpopulation Bomb
Despite reaching 8 billion people, we must plan for population decline (New Scientist, 9 Nov 2022). The subtitle explains the downside of reducing human numbers: “The number of people on the planet has hit a huge milestone at 8 billion, but fertility rates are falling fast in many countries, which means planning for an older population.” Fewer births can lead to catastrophic consequences for a country, reducing the replacement of wage earners to pay for social programs for the elderly.
Looming Crisis: Follow-up Study Shows Significant Decline in Sperm Counts Globally, Including Latin America, Asia and Africa (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 15 Nov 2022). Forget about overpopulation. There is a dramatic decline in male fertility (measured by sperm count), these scientists say. Loss of fertility leads to many types of crisis: not enough young workers to pay for health care for seniors, decline in families, not enough husbands for women, and men’s health. My, what would Paul Ehrlich say about this finding?
Alarmingly, this study also shows that the decline in sperm counts in North America, Europe, and Australia—reported by this team in 2017—has continued and even accelerated in the 21st century. Sperm count is not only an indicator of human fertility; it also is an indicator of men’s health, with low levels being associated with increased risk of chronic disease, testicular cancer and a decreased lifespan. The authors say the decline reflects a global crisis related to our modern environment and lifestyle, with broad implications for the survival of the human species.
These are not the claims of one or two scientists. “An international team led by Professor Hagai Levine of Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Braun School of Public Health, with Prof. Shanna Swan at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York, along with researchers in Denmark, Brazil, Spain, Israel and the USA” participated in the study. Measurements show a 1% decline in sperm counts per year. “This clearly cannot continue unchecked,” they say, with an urgent call for action:
Time is running out, cautioned Levine. “Our findings serve as a canary in a coal mine. We have a serious problem on our hands that, if not mitigated, could threaten mankind’s survival. We urgently call for global action to promoted healthier environments for all species and reduce exposures and behaviors that threaten our reproductive health.“
One of Tucker Carlson’s “Originals” agrees with this assessment: “The End of Men” (requires Fox Nation subscription). The end of men means the end of women, too.
World Population Surpasses 8 Billion People, India To Overtake China Next Year (Ben Zeisloft, The Daily Wire, 15 Nov 2022). This article looks at the positive potential of humanity, taking a conservative position on solutions.
Claims that decreasing population growth is beneficial for humanity, however, often overlook the robust innovation and productive capacity that can emerge from larger populations. Cato Institute Senior Fellow Marian Tupy, who has authored multiple books about the fallacy of planetary resource depletion, said during an interview with The Daily Wire that “the more people you have, the greater the number of people who are likely to be inventors or innovators.”
“The world’s population in the last 200 years has risen from 1 billion people to 8 billion people, and yet the world is much richer than it was before. Not just that, but we are living longer, we are healthier, we are better educated, we are more moral in many aspects,” he remarked. “Only human beings can have new ideas that lead to innovations, inventions, productivity gains, and increased standards of living. If any progress is going to come, it has to come from the human mind. The more people you have, the more ideas you have, the more innovations you have.”
The claim about people becoming “more moral” is subject to debate, though. And if all the people are untrained in wisdom, and live as fools, birthing more fools will lead to collapse on all those fronts: longevity, health, education, morality, innovation, productivity, and standard of living. It’s quality that counts, not quantity.
Leftists often present a hate-the-West attitude, blaming America and developed countries for using up all the resources and making the biggest carbon footprints. They employ visualization tactics with photos of densely-packed crowds (often manipulated with telephoto lenses to make people appear closer together), contrasted with a few selected photos of Western white people living in luxury and overabundance. But why can’t the poor be led to abundance? The science and engineering know-how that brought prosperity to America, Dubai, Korea and other countries is not locked in safes. The knowledge is freely available in publications.
Why not investigate the worldview reasons why poor countries remain poor? Look at the difference between North Korea and South Korea right now—same people groups, same geography. It’s not a question of population or greed. The corrupt Kim regime and its communist ideology enslaves the people in constant hunger and fear. Given a change in regime, there is no reason North Korea could not be as rich and prosperous as its southern neighbor, using its own natural resources. Former President Trump tried to make that appeal to Kim Jong Un but the dictator was unwilling.
Why not look for religious reasons (e.g., spiritism) and cultural habits that prevent poor populations from sharing the wealth through wisdom? It’s not a zero-sum game. America does not have to have its wealth robbed and given to Haiti to create “equity.” Give a fool a million dollars, and soon it will be spent on gambling and drugs. But teach fools godly wisdom, and everyone can prosper through wisely-directed work, using their God-given minds and bodies. Haiti is a basket case not because of Western greed (America has given millions of dollars to Haiti, and Christian ministries have built hospitals and schools). Haiti suffers because of its voodoo culture and long history of corrupt leaders. This has brought moral collapse. I know of an orphanage that helps hundreds of children for free that has to guard its property from roving gangs that have taken over the country.
We suggest the life of George Washington Carver as a case study in the benefits of godly wisdom. Carver used experimental science mixed with altruism to help poor Southern black farmers become successful. He loved Jesus and he believed that God had provided abundant natural resources for humanity. He demonstrated through his altruistic science that we can learn how to use them wisely and sustainably (see biography of Carver).