A famine has been declared in the Horn of Africa region, due to drought (possibly climate change-related). Around 12 million people are affected. Such a disaster shows what a liability high populations become when the food supply is threatened. Imagine this happening in a developed country – say, if the food supply was cut off for some reason – and the chaos that would ensue. As I have asserted before, the only way to avoid such emergencies is to keep population growth restricted even in times of plenty when the natural instinct is to reproduce profligately (as happens in the natural world – Nature’s “boom and bust” cycle). Then if a drought comes there will be enough food to go around. Therefore the long-term aid to the affected countries should include educating women, access to family planning and medical care so their children survive to adulthood. From one of the LA Times articles linked to below:
Women who have no schooling give birth to an average of 4.5 children; with just a year or more of schooling, the number drops to 3. As education increases, the number of births drops. Girls in Africa who receive some education will have fewer children and have them later in life. Their children will be healthier, and more educated as well.
There’s a series of articles about overpopulation in the 21/7 LA Times:
- Defusing the population bomb
- The world’s biggest problem? Too many people
- Overpopulation debate comes to one conclusion
- Decrease the birthrate, save the world?
Most commentators are in agreement that overpopulation is a real concern – a root cause of many of the other world’s problems – but gets little attention due to the topic being taboo. One though, Alex B. Berezow, disagrees and brings out the tired example of the problem being due to distribution not numbers. But a lot of land is unsuitable for habitation, or would require environmentally-destructive methods to make it suitable. Another has an opinion piece that bigger families are better. Maybe, if you want home-grown workers! Children in such families tend to get lost in the crowd as they recieve proportionally less attention with the more siblings they have (as some article commentators noted). I doubt there are any “good reasons” for women in developed countries to have large families; it’s just selfishness on their part.
I have read Dick Smith’s Population Crisis (reviewed at CanDoBetter) and found it an informative summary of the overpopulation issue. It is written from a layperson’s viewpoint, so is more accessible than an academic text. Possibly the only disagreement I have is his assertion that coercive methods of population control are not necessary as women “when given the choice, make sensible decisions about the size of their family”. From observation, quite a lot don’t – many Australian women seem to be having large families (three or more children).
In a book review or opinion piece (it’s not clear which) in the Australian, the reviewer dismissively remarks:
To the best of my knowledge this is the first time in history that an important scientific question is dominating national and international politics. It has occurred before but not in such a way as to permeate global awareness. For example, the fear of an all-out nuclear war, so strong in the 50s and 60s, possessed a strong scientific ingredient but the debate was generally viewed more as a military and political than a science matter. Likewise, periodic fears about overpopulation, and especially the Club of Rome’s warning in the early 70s that the world’s fast-multiplying population might soon be short of food and minerals, carried a scientific component, part of which was ultimately seen as slipshod. These fears engrossed only a small section of the population in Western nations, then they faded.
Er…no! Those fears concerning overpopulation are more acute and relevant than ever, and certainly haven’t faded.
Collected letters from The Age. The first another annoyed response to the proposal of sending Melbourne’s surplus people to other parts of Victoria:
Please stay away
I note correspondents referring to “decentralisation” as the solution to Melbourne’s overpopulation, some pointing out the relaxed lifestyle of provincial cities as a bonus (Letters, 26/6). Precisely how long will that, already fading, lifestyle last if you dump your excess baggage on us?
There will be people with dollar signs in their eyes who would simply love to wreck the rest of Victoria and my guess is they are the people who tell the pollies what to do. My response to “location, location, location” – is “p--- off, overpopulation destroys”.
– Christopher Monie, Ballarat
Why do we need a carbon tax? Clearly the world is using too much carbon-rich fuel with resultant carbon dioxide emissions. Higher standards of living are only achieved by more consumption of worldly goods and the higher consumption of carbon-rich fuels. Population demand is the most significant driver in higher carbon dioxide emissions, and to tackle emission reduction while an ever-increasing world population continues unabated is like trying to correct a problem with only minor tinkering at the edges.
We may feel good because we are debating the pros and cons of small incremental changes but it does nothing to address the main cause of ever-increasing emissions.
– Llew Sandford, Shepparton
Too many people
It was a supreme irony that on Monday, July 11 – World Population Day – most of The Age letters were about the carbon tax, but there was not a word about Australia’s population boom and its role in increasing our carbon emissions. Nor were there any opinion pieces on the subject.
Projections made at the end of 2010 indicate that, if allowed to continue at the rate of 2 per cent per annum, Australia’s population could reach 35 million by 2050. Melbourne could reach 7 million. It is shameful that Australia is the greatest per capita emitter of carbon pollution in the world. In the carbon tax debate, federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson pointed out: “We can’t reduce our carbon footprint if we keep on adding more feet.”
No matter how much we fork out in carbon taxes, we will never reach our targets in reducing carbon emissions if we do not reduce our skilled overseas migration to manageable levels and work out a sustainable population policy for Australia.
– Julianne Bell, Parkville
I’m sorry, but unless there is a global policy of population reduction, no amount of tax is going to make one bit of difference.
– Darryn, Northcote