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7 Billion: What the Population Control Advocates Don’t Say

In Birth Rate, Demographic Decline, Environmentalism, Population Control on October 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

International population advocates and their allies in the media have decided that October 31, 2011 is the day that the world’s population will reach 7 billion.  How convenient for them; they get to play off the day dedicated to spooky tales with a spooky tale of their own.

Over the weekend, some version of the Associated Press (AP) article “World Population Nearing 7 Billion” ended up in most major newspapers.  Here’s the gist of the article:  Women and their families living in poverty, not enough food, water, or access to education – all because they have too many children.  The intended message?   The world is going to collapse under the weight of its burgeoning population unless something is done.

United Families International has been contacted by several individuals asking for a rebuttal to this claim.  So we decided to share some thoughts on the topic.

Is the world’s population spiraling out of control? 

No, global fertility rates are half of what they were in 1970 and are continuing downward.  The number of children the average woman has during her childbearing years fell from five in the mid-1960′s to 2.7 today.   With the exception of some sub-sarahan nations such as Niger, Yemen and Uganda, fertility rates have fallen rather dramatically around the world.  (UN, World Population Report, 2010)  By 2020, for the first time, the global fertility rate will dip below the global replacement rate of 2.1.

Currently 79 countries, representing close to 50 percent of the world’s population,  have below-replacement fertility rates.  No industrialized nation still produces enough children to sustain its population over time or to prevent rapid population aging.  It is counterintuitive, however, because even in areas where birthrates are dramatically below replacement level, the absolute number of people is often still growing–giving the appearance of rampant population growth.

If fertility rates have fallen, why have world population numbers continued to rise?

It’s because of a process called “population momentum.”  A simple definition is that there are enough women, already born, who will probably bear children that the world’s population will continue upward for a period of time.  But what the population control advocates don’t address is what happens when the population momentum stops and population growth rates become negative and eventually go into a steep free fall.

Population free fall is happening in some countries right now.   When a country reaches a total fertility rate of 1.4, that country will lose one-third of its population every generation.  There are approximately 34 countries that are in that predicament right now.  Our colleagues at Population Research Institute (PRI) have put together a short, clever cartoon video that explains such things as population momentum.  See it here.

Is the rise out of poverty predicated upon reducing family size?

Try though they might, the international agencies that support population control have not been able to support their assumption that reducing family size boosts development or provides a sure rise out of poverty.

You’ll note that even in the AP article Lester Brown, an environmentalist that always makes sure he’s in the news, is quoted as saying:  “Extreme poverty and large families tend to reinforce each other.” [emphasis added]  He offers this equivocating statement because there is no empirical support for the position that reducing fertility pulls a country and its people out of poverty.

It is said that modernization and development are “the best contraceptive.”  As modern technologies and economic development have gained traction in developing countries, birth rates have fallen – with or without inducements to reduce family size.  To say “you won’t pull yourself out of poverty until you curtail your children” is simply unsupportable.   Here’s an interesting chart; take a look and you decide:  Statistics on Population and Prosperity:  Is There an Effect? 

Secondly, you’ll want to see another of PRI’s cartoons.  It gives you “A New Way to Look at Population and Poverty.”

Why are there people in the world that are still hungry?

“There is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment necessary  for a healthy and productive life.” - World Food Program.  

“The world currently produces enough food for everybody, but many people do not have access to it.”  -Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN.

The  distrubtion and access to food is hampered by many things other than poverty, such as natural disasters, ineffective farming techniques and over-exploitation of land, poor infrastructure for delivery, and war.  One of the biggest reasons people go hungry is because of ineffective and/or corrupt government.  There is no reason to believe that reducing the number of children is going to have a major impact on the factors that are the primary drivers of world hunger.  To see a list of statistics regarding population and food production, go here.  You’ll also see another short, yet great PRI video:  “Food:  There’s lots of it.”

Conclusion

The problems in some countries are serious and deserve our full attention.  The millions upon millions of dollars spent on population control programs, however, are better spent on such things as providing clean water, sanitation, modern medical care, education, infrastructure, and economic development.

Seven billion is a very large number.  But throwing it into the population debate without any context, intentionally takes the personal nature out of the life equation.  Each of those seven billion is a life of significant value and influence.  American genious Walt Disney once said, “Our greatest natural resouce is our children.”  We trust that human ingenuity will enable mankind to meet the challenges ahead and we welcome each and every child into the world.

Happy Birthday, young seven billionth wonderful child!

Sincerely,

Carol Soelberg
President, United Families International

7 Billion People: Everybody Relax!

In Birth Rate, Demographic Decline, Family Planning, Population Control on October 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Sometime this month, demographers tell us that the world population will reach the seven billion mark.  Get ready for lots of hand-wringing and wails from environmentalists and the population control lobby.  Is that a number that should fill us all with dread?  Are humans “over-running” the planet?

Population Research Institute (PRI) has put together another of their clever cartoon videos to explain demographic concepts.  They’re simple and short and well worth your time.  So this month when the media tells you horror stories  about the world’s  out-of-control population, you can just add it to your list of other Halloween tales.

 

After you watch this one, you might want to take a look at  these other  short PRI cartoon videos:

2.1 Kids:  Stable Population

Food, there’s lots of it!

A new way to look at poverty and population

Russia: Demographic Crisis

In Abortion, Birth Rate, Demographic Decline on August 26, 2011 at 10:36 am

“Mother Russia” is experiencing an unprecedented decline in population.  In the last 20 years, it is estimated that an astounding 80 million unborn Russian children have been aborted.  On average, a Russian woman over the course of her reproductive life will have seven abortions.

Combing that high abortion rate with a fertility rate of 1.2 (a fertility rate of 2.1 is needed for replacement of population), Russia stands to lose over one-third of its population every generation.   “We’re losing almost three quarters of a million people every year,” said Alexey Komov, chairman of the Moscow Demographic Summit that was held this last June.

The video below, by Population Research Institute, gives an excellent overview of the demographic problem and some insight into Russian history and culture.  It notes the ways that Russia is attempting to reverse the decline – albeit not very successfully.

For example, in 2003 President Vladimir Putin put in place a $9,000 “baby bonus” to encourage couples to have children.  This video tells of a Russian bank that is currently offering a 0.5 discount in mortgage rates to families for each child born.  All valiant attempts, but history has shown that is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to reverse this type of demographic decline.

“Ultimately it’s a matter of faith and spirit that determines how many children people decide to have,” said Phillip Longman, lecturer and author of The Empty Cradle:  How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity.  “That’s not something the government can really do. That’s something society can do.”

We would add it is something that society must do.

 

UFI Reader Poll: Is it crucial that developing countries reduce their population?

In Birth Rate, Environmentalism, Family Planning, Polls, Population Control on April 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Here’s the question: 

Do you believe that it is crucial that developing countries reduce their population?

Here is the UFI reader response:

91 percent               No

6 percent               Yes

3 percent               Unsure

United Families International representatives are currently attending the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD).  The mantra of the UN is that “poverty reduction can best be accomplished by reducing population.”  Of course there’s the ever favorite:  “The world has a population explosion.”  Getting rid of the world’s population is always a priority – especially at CPD.

To see some statistics on fertility rates and population go here.

Also, just for fun, consider this:

The world population (6,793,593,686 as of the end of 2010) if miraculously moved to the state of Texas, would result in a population density of 25,292.5 souls per square mile, or somewhat greater than 1/3 as dense as the current situation in Manhattan, which amounts to 70,994.75 persons per square mile.

Myth Buster Monday: There’s a “population explosion!”

In Birth Rate, Demographic Decline, European Union, UN on April 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm

The notion that the world is being overrun by people has been around for a long time.  “We can’t produce enough food to feed the masses.”  “The world will become so crowded it will become a living hell.”  Perhaps its most famous proponent is Reverend Thomas Malthus who stated:  “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” The neo-Malthusians are alive and well today, but are they right?

“Never before in human history have global fertility levels dropped so much, so fast,” states a recent UN Secretary-General report.   World fertility has declined over 50 percent in 50 years.  Recently, the U.S. also dropped below the replacement fertility level – that rate being 2.1 children per couple.  Today, 30 developing countries, representing 40 percent of the population of the developing world, also have below-replacement fertility. (UN Secretary-General Report)

This has not stopped the population control folks from continuing their mantra of “too many people!”  They cite population momentum – population growth continues for a time after fertility drops – as a reason to continue “family planning” programs in the developing world.  The UN’s medium variant indicates that around 2045, world population will top out at 8.75 billion.  UN demographers acknowledge that the population will then stabilize for a time and then begin to decrease.

Here are some statistics on population and whether the world has too many people:

  • By about 2020, for the first time, the global fertility rate will dip below the global replacement rate of 2.1.
  • About 44% of the world population lives in nations with sub-replacement fertility.
  • At a fertility rate of 1.4, a country will lose one-third of its population in a generation (a generation = 26 years).
  • Approximately 17 European countries currently have fertility rates of 1.4 or below.
  • All European countries (except Turkey) have below replacement level fertility rates with an average European fertility rate of 1.5.
  • The number of people in the world is closing in on 7 billion.  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates the earth can easily support 8 to 12 billion using existing agricultural technology.  Joe Woodard, “Rome’s Other Ghosts:  Population Control at the Food Summit,”  PRI Review , (January/February 1997):  9.

“Rapid population growth originally commenced not because human beings suddenly started breeding like rabbits but rather because they finally stopped dying like flies.” – Nicholas Eberstadt

 

Statistics on Population and Prosperity:
Is There an Effect?

Country Population
per square km
Pop. per sq. km
arable land
Income per capita Life exp.
Bangladesh 1218 2,215 $1,700 70
China 140 931 $7,400 74
Denmark 128 247 $36,700 78
Germany 228 691 $35,900 80
India 362 754 $3,400 67
Israel 360 2,398 $29,500 81
Japan 335 2,789 $34,200 82
Mexico 58 445 $13,800 76
Switzerland 185 1,850 $42,900 81
Taiwan 641 2,672 $35,800 78
United Kingdom 257 1,120 $35,100 80
United States 32 178 $47,400 78

The CIA World Factbook (2010)   

Day Seven: Trees More Important than Babies

In Abortion, Birth Rate, Environmentalism, Feminism, Population Control, UN on March 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Another in our on-going series of UFI at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

Attending and participating in this presentation required my finest acting skills.  “Ecology and Feminism:  Sacred Feminine, Circles and Valuing Girls and Trees” was the title of this “parallel event” and I just couldn’t resist!  The attendees were a fine group of aging hardcore feminists, primarily middle-aged and older women who appeared to be from either from North America or Europe.  My guess is that women from the developing world had more important things to go to and learn about; like legitimate ideas for economic development, clean water, meeting sanitation needs, quality health care, and getting their children educated.

“I saw the tree before I saw the house,” began the first presenter, “it spoke to me.”  She expounded upon her efforts – which ultimately failed – to save the tree in her front yard.  The tree fell under the control of the homeowner’s association and they wanted it removed.  She spoke of her intense “battle” to save the tree including the hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars she spent in legal fees.  “How could a tree simply be voted out of existence!” she lamented.

She spoke with passion about the “sense of the sacred, the connectedness in our consciousness between trees and ourselves,” of the “goddess in every women,” of the “sacredness coming through Mother Earth and women; a sacred dimension that is matter (mater, mother, matter).”  Referring to trees she said, “we are all one; we are connected, what happens to one happens to all…”

Her time being up, she turned her comments to the critical nature of reproductive health rights and women’s rights and the need for true feminists to re-engage and make sure abortion remains legal, human population growth is slowed or better yet stopped completely, and that nature and trees takes their proper position in humanities’ priorities.  “Respect for Mother Earth and life must prevail over all else.”  My hand immediately went into the air.  But it wasn’t Q&A time yet; my question would have to wait.

So here was where my acting skills (which are basically non-existent) came into play.  We were divided into groups of five and tasked with responding to the question:  “Think back through your life, perhaps into your childhood, and tell the group about your relationship with trees.  How have trees impacted your life?   Did you sit in them?  Do they communicate with you?  Tell us about your connection to them.”  I survived this section of the presentation because I do enjoy trees; I have about 150 of them in my yard and I raised them all from seedlings.  So I played along just fine.

Next, we had to get up, stand in a big circle, hold hands and chant a simple verse while one woman rang this little chime thing.  BTW, the leader was called “the Circle Evangelist.”  We had to each then use five words (just five) to say how we felt connected to one another- the power of women – and to nature.  I REALLY struggled to not laugh at this point and then – you guessed it – we held hands, swaying back and forth as we sang some song about peace and love in the world through recognizing the “sacred feminine” in each one of us.  Everyone was hugging and basking in the glow.   All I could think was:  “When is it question time!”

But we’d taken too much time; we had to vacate the room for the next presentation.  So I never had the chance to ask them.  So here it goes:

“You say that nature, trees, and achieving peace are all important.  I agree; I love trees and nature.  But I would add that all life is sacred and important.  How can you advocate for the life and soul of a tree (which most would say is an inanimate object), and yet completely ignore the life of an unborn child and callously advocate for its brutal destruction?  That seems pretty inconsistent to me.”

I’ll never know their response to my question.  But I’ll bet “the circle evangelist” wouldn’t have invited me back.

–M. Barlow

Myth Buster Monday: The bulk of unwed births are to teens

In Birth Rate, Cohabitation, Marriage, Myth Buster, Schools on January 17, 2011 at 5:00 am

We regularly read of the need for more sex education in our schools in an effort to avoid teen pregnancy.  Shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant garner lots of attention and add to the perception that the biggest problem with out-wedlock-child bearing can be found at your local high school.  The reality is, however, that teens account for about 23 percent of all out-of-wedlock births with sixty percent of those unmarried teen births to women who are 18 or 19.  These are certainly not numbers we should be content with, but it is worth knowing that the unmarried teen birth rate has been falling slowly over the last two decades.

The majority of unwed births in this country are to unmarried mothers in their twenties, with the greatest increase in the number of unwed births (2008-2009) occurring to women between the ages of 30 and 34.

Maggie Gallagher, in her publication “The Age of Unwed mothers, argues:  “What has changed most in recent decades is not who gets pregnant, but who gets married.”  Gallagher has written extensively about the growing disconnect between marriage and childbearing, the cultural attitudes that foster it and the damage to society that ensues.

I was getting ready to regale you with all of the statistics of the consequences to children because of the epidemic of out-of-wedlock child bearing, when I ran across this short article that just does too good of job of making my point.  So I’m passing it on to you.   It’s an older article (2008) but it’s absolutely worth the read and comes from a publication that might surprise you:

http://www.slate.com/id/2185944/pagenum/all/#p2

New way to look at Population and Poverty

In Birth Rate, Demographic Decline, Environmentalism on December 14, 2010 at 5:45 am

“Poverty:  Where we all Started” is the title of a clever video produced by Population Research Institute (PRI).  It discusses some of the myths surrounding poverty reduction.

“Reducing the number of people in the world doesn’t make those who remain any wealthier,” says Joseph Powell, the creator and animator of the series. “That’s why, as we show in our video, population control isn’t the answer to poverty.”

You can also see some of their other videos on the myth of overpopulation here.

Too Few or Too Many?

In Abortion, Birth Rate, Canada, Demographic Decline, Environmentalism, Population Control on November 29, 2010 at 5:30 am

Two articles.  One telling me that there are too many people on the planet and one telling me that there aren’t enough.  That’s what appeared in my inbox this week.  I’m always a little taken back…and extremely skeptical… when I see a headline stating that the solution to a world problem is to get rid of people.  But that’s what the environmental group “Worldwatch Institute” implies.  Here’s the lead-in to their article:

“A new report from the Worldwatch Institute argues that assuring that all women have access to contraception and taking steps to improve women’s lives should be key strategies in the fight against global climate change.”

You will regularly hear the “get rid of people” argument applied to global warming, international development, and even to the use of contraception to lower maternal mortality rates.  Yet in the other article I was referring to, the flip side is presented:

  • 59 countries with 44 percent of the world’s population have below-replacement fertility.
  • Worldwide, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) fell from 5.0 in the mid-1960’s to 2.7 today.  That’s a drop of close to 50 percent.
  • Russia is losing 700,000 people a year and there are more abortions in that country than live births.
  • Any country with a Total Fertility Rate of 1.4 or below will lose a third of its population each generation (about every 25 years).  The majority of the developed world fits in this category.
  • Between 2015 and 2021, in Canada, the number of elderly will exceed the number of children under age 14 for the first time ever.  By 2050, Japan will have two senior citizens for every child.

“In discussions of the global economic crisis, almost everyone misses an underlying reality.  It’s not just bloated budgets, it’s empty nurseries.  Deficits and economic decline are driven by plummeting fertility,” states Don Feder, in a speech to the World Public Forum in October.  Mr. Feder effectively argues that the loss of people is a far more serious problem than the purported problems stemming from “global climate change.”

But I suspect that groups like Worldwatch Institute will never stop beating the “there are too many people” drum.  It’s religion for them.  Maybe we should start calling them “deniers…” population-decline deniers.

You can listen to an earlier version of  Mr. Feder’s speech here.

How Do You Help Countries Who are Struggling to Develop?

In Birth Rate, UN on August 13, 2010 at 6:13 am

That’s the question we asked our UFI readers last week.  As you can see from the percentages below, it is a question where few people agree on the answer—including those who control the purse strings of international funding institutions tasked with dispersing funds to the developing world.

Sadly, there is little documentation that all the millions of dollars poured into developing countries over the last few decades have had any positive effective.

What is the best way to truly help and give effective assistance to developing countries?

2%          Help them lower their population

12%        Subsidize business creation

34%        Improve medical and health care

36%        Improve education system

16%        Improve the country’s infrastructure

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