Thursday, August 2, 2007

Population Control: Is The Answer To Global Warming and Protecting The Environment?

Since over-population of the Earth by human beings is often cited as a cause of global warming and many other supposed environmental disasters, I'm citing the following article to generate some thought and some questions.

Can population control really be achieved? Is it working in China? Is it "ethical" to deny women the "right" to have children? If we can reduce the number of births, is that really a good thing? Would reducing world population really have an effect on global warming? These are just some of the many questions we need to be asking. What do you think?


Restricting Family Size May Become Unavoidable, Says Environment Group
By Kevin
CorrespondentJuly 19, 2007London ( -
A British advocacy group is warning that compulsory restrictions on family sizes may become "unavoidable" if the Earth is to be saved from disaster. The Optimum Population Trust, a group that advocates curbing global population growth because of humans' impact on the environment, says that over the next 50 years, the planet will have to deal with the largest generation of adolescents and teenagers in history. Many of these, the organization says, will be unemployed young men who, in their frustration over their situation, may resort to violence. This will add to the already overwhelming burden developing countries are facing as a result of population growth.

In a report released this month, OPT Co-Chairman John Guillebaud said that the United Nations projection of a world population of 9.2 billion in 2050 -- up from 6.7 billion today -- was a "highly optimistic" estimate and that the actual number may be "many more."The population of the 50 poorest countries in the developing world will double in size, a shift that will wipe out gains in agriculture, education and health care faster than they can be made, said Guillebaud, who is a retired professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College in London.

By 2050, OPT projects that the world's population will be using the biological capacity of two Earths. It says this will lead to a massive population crash through a combination of violence, disease and starvation. To prevent this, the report advocates a mix of government policies to prevent women worldwide from having more than an average of two children. Recommendations for developing countries include funding to provide women much greater access to contraception and abortions. Despite the fact that fertility rates in nearly all European countries has dropped below two -- demographers say the generational replacement level is 2.1 -- the trust said fears of "a baby shortage" are misplaced.

Some European governments have started to offer citizens financial incentives to have children. The report criticized the policy, saying it would only postpone the day when there are more retired people than workers. China's communist government enforces a controversial population control policy that, with some exceptions for minorities and rural dwellers, limits couples to one child. Critics say family planning officials use coercive measures, including forced abortion and sterilization, to enforce the policy. The government insists that "only" punitive fines and financial incentives are used.

Guillebaud said the Chinese policy was "counterproductive" but argued that unless voluntary measures are brought in quickly, other countries may be forced to follow China's lead. "No one is in favor of governments dictating family size, but we need to act quickly to prevent it." he said.

Donna Nicholson, a spokeswoman for the Scottish chapter of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said that the problem facing many developing countries is not overpopulation but global inequality. The United States produces enough food annually to feed the entire world, she said. At the same time, the crippling debt facing many African countries drives them to cut back on education and health care. Citing her experience working in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Nicholson said the answer to solving poverty was not population control. "You can't look at a woman in the Third World and say the problem is that she's pregnant," she said.

Josephine Quintavalle, head of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, another British pro-life group, said she found it frightening that the OPT report was getting attention. She said Europe was facing a situation in which in just a few years, more people would be over 60 years of age than under 60. Unless European countries took urgent measures to encourage more people to have babies, she said, the continent could skip an entire generation of children. "One wonders what planet this organization comes from when they come up with these conclusions," Quintavalle said.

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